Sep 10, 2015
Study: Collisions Not An MLB Catcher’s Greatest Injury Risk

Last season, Major League Baseball adopted new rules to reduce the number of collisions during plays at home plate. Catchers are no longer allowed to completely block a runner’s path to the plate, and the runner cannot deliberately collide with the catcher. But according to a new study led by researchers from Johns Hopkins University, less than 15 percent of catcher injuries resulted from contact with another player. The most common causes were errant bats and foul balls.

“Our results indicate that while well-intended, the league’s current efforts to reduce contact injuries among catchers may be overlooking other types of trauma among this subgroup that tend to inflict more physical harm and lead to more loss of game time,” senior investigator Edward McFarland, MD, Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Johns Hopkins said in a press release

The study, titled “Epidemiology of Injuries in Major League Baseball Catchers,” appeared online ahead of print in The American Journal of Sports Medicine. Conducted in collaboration with Brian Ebel and Richard Bancells, athletic trainers with the Baltimore Orioles, it looked at 134 injuries to major league catchers from 2001 to 2010. Blows to the head from a bat or a foul tip was the most common cause of injury.

Researchers also found that non-contact injuries had longer recovery times, averaging 53 days on the disabled list compared to 39 days for contact injuries. Although there were only 11 concussions recorded during the study period, the two contact-related concussions required an average of 16 days for recovery compared to 54 days for the nine non-contact concussions.

“While recent rule changes were implemented to prevent catcher injuries, the focus of these changes is not supported by the findings on our study,” Kelly Kilcoyne, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon at William Beaumont Army Medical Center in El Paso, Texas said in a press release. “Further investigation and in-depth analysis can inform optimal strategies to mitigate and prevent injuries among this particular category of players.”

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