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Author Archives: The Pitchers Helmet Team

Protective pitchers caps approved by MLB for 2014 use

As of yesterday morning, the MLB announced that they approved protective headgear for their players. The padded cap is manufactured by 4Licensing Corporation subsidiary isoBlox and will be made available to pitchers in time for spring training next month. Read the full article below, including player interviews and feedback, courtesy of ESPN:

 http://espn.go.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/10363291/pitchers-protective-caps-approved-major-league-baseball

Why your kid needs a pitchers helmet

Softball player with Pitcher HelmetIt has become a too common story every summer. From the local diamonds to the big league ballparks, pitchers find themselves in the crosshairs of line drives hit back up the middle. Most of the time the ball ends up between the pitcher’s legs, or slightly to the left or right. But the few times that an off-balance pitcher finds his head in the way of a batted ball, it can have disastrous consequences.In 2013 alone, two big league pitchers have found themselves out for a considerable amount of time. On the same mound at Tropicana Field in 2013, both J.A. Happ and Alex Cobb suffered injuries that put them out of the game for an extended period of time. Happ’s injury left him with a fractured skull, and a trip to the 60-day disabled list. Cobb is making his way back to the Tampa Bay Rays after his head injury left him with a concussion and vertigo. If history is any indication, however, there may be long-term symptoms for both.Both Happ and Cobb survived their run-in with a baseball. Dylan Williams, an 8-year-old Indiana Little Leaguer, was not so lucky earlier this summer when a thrown ball made contact with the right side of his head. Williams died as a result of his injuries. Doctors are still baffled as to the circumstances that lead to the traumatic event, but know that better protection may have mitigated his injuries.

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So what are pitchers, and in some cases the parents of pitchers, to do about the ever-growing head injury epidemic in baseball? According to the CDC, more than half of all injuries suffered in youth sports are preventable, but how? The answers may not be as “cool” as a titanium-infused necklace, but they are out there.

Easton-Bell introduced a pitcher’s helmet back in 2011 designed to protect the young boys and girls that take the mound every summer from serious injuries. However, it was slow to take off and is no longer on the market. For a short time, Worth produced a pitcher’s helmet for slowpitch pitchers, but again, slow sales led to a halt in production. Another solution, called the HALO, was tested out by some Major League Baseball Pitchers this spring. Although it weighed only four ounces, it was not well received by some pitchers, including Brandon McCarthy, who suffered a line drive to the head in 2012.

“It felt like there was a cat sleeping on my head,” said McCarthy of the prototypes he tried on this spring.

While that may seem like a small trade-off when you consider that almost a year after the injury, McCarthy suffered a seizure tied to his head injury, one also needs to consider the effect that could have on a pitcher. Something substantial enough to offer protection is also prone to shifting on a player’s head, interfering greatly with their ability to perform.

While their may not be a suitable option for those in the majors, there is equipment out there that will provide the protection necessary for the young people playing the game. Parents are encouraged to do their own research and find the best option for themselves and their young athlete.

Alarming stats about sports injuries

When you think of sports injuries, especially aimed towards youth, what are the first two that pop into your head? Football and hockey are typically the first ones. Baseball and softball overall appear to be safer on the surface than those other sports, but the statistics may say otherwise.According to a 2009 Consumer Product Safety Commission, more children between the ages of 5 and 14 were sent to the emergency room than soccer and ice hockey combined, with a total of 110,000 reports. That’s 60,000 fewer than basketball and over 100,000 fewer than football, but there’s another telling statistic that should invoke a need for better safety equipment.That statistic would be the fatality rate. It’s estimated that on average each year, baseball and softball are responsible for three to four deaths in the United States alone. Among all traumatic brain injuries that children and adolescents receiver in America, it’s estimated that 21 percent of these injuries are a result of sports and recreational activities. Deaths in youth sports (and all sports for that matter) are extremely rare, but brain injury is the leading cause.

The reason for this is simple. In football, a brain injury with sudden and fatal impact is prevented with the use of helmets that possess state of the art technology. There is also the added benefit for football that the actual ball will not create enough force to cause serious injury.

Baseball, though, is completely different. When a ball is hit off of a bat, the speed can be incredibly overwhelming for a youngster to cope with. As they grow up, their reaction time is not on par with adults, and especially not with professional baseball and softball players. This can cause a very serious problem as infielders (especially pitchers) don’t have the necessary reaction time or equipment to catch a ball and prevent head injury.

It’s important to consider these statistics as they can be alarming. You never want to come off as the overprotective parent, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Especially in a sport that has resulted in several deaths each year on average. Always equip your players with the proper head protection (i.e. a helmet) at all times. Pitching, batting, fielding, it doesn’t matter. There’s no such thing as being too safe in youth sports.

Injury Prevention Tips

Preventing injury is an important part of all sports in every level. Keeping injuries from happening on the youth level can be difficult since there isn’t a professional training staff on hand at all times. However, there are some tips that you can take to heart to make sure that young athletes are doing their best to stay away from the injury bug. It can save a lot of hassle and suffering for all involved with the league from coaches all the way to parents. Here are some of the things to do to make sure that injury is prevented as best as possible.

Preseason Activities

Before the practices and games even begin, there are many things to do. Always make sure that your player’s medical conditions are known to the doctors and coaches. A preseason physical is a great way to make sure that everything is up to date health-wise with the player.

It’s also important to share this information with the coaches of the team so they know what to look out for. Also keep your emergency contact information available with the team staff so the right phone calls can be made in case something unfortunate happens.
Stretching and Hydration

Before games and practices, it is always important to keep the athlete well stretched and hydrated. Not only can it prevent heat-related problems that are common in the hot months of Summer, but it can also prevent injuries.

Keeping the muscles relaxed and relieved will help keep tension injuries away from the muscles. Sprains, tears and other muscle injuries can be nearly eliminated with the proper stretching technique. Cramps can be annoying for a player, so both stretching and proper hydration can take care of this problem.

Equipment
It doesn’t take the most expensive equipment to prevent an injury, it just takes the right equipment. Rubber cleats and shin guards are important to prevent injuries to the leg, while helmets can really help protect against head injuries. Damage to the head can be the scariest and most harmful type of injury, so the proper head gear at all times is of the utmost importance.

Even if the player thinks that wearing a helmet at all times is “un-cool”, let them know exactly what can happen without it. Many head trauma cases could have been prevented with head gear, so always keep it handy.

Rest
This is especially important with pitchers. Overworking a young arm can lead to severe problems down the road, so always limit the innings. Even if the player isn’t a pitcher, rest can be very important when the temperature is on the rise.

Coaches
Even though there isn’t a professional health staff on hand at all times, the coach can be a big help. If a coach is certified in first aid and CPR, they can help prevent very serious health problems from happening.

It’s important to take these tips to heart. There are too many young players that are injured each year when playing sports. According to a 2009 Consumer Product Safety Commission, there was a total of 110,000 injury reports for youth baseball and softball players. The worst part is that a lot of them could have been prevented. Always be prepared, and your players can lead happy and healthy sports careers.

Safety Fundamentals on the field

Youth football may grab all the headlines surrounding the dangers of head injuries, but youth and adult sports on the diamond share there fair share of risk. Often times, the head injuries that are suffered in baseball and softball can be much more serious initially, with long-term ramifications.

The recent uptick in the number of pitchers injured by batted balls has been a rallying cry of sorts for protective headgear for players in the field. Major League Baseball was quick to make changes in the wake of the death of minor league first base coach Scott Coolbaugh in 2007. Coolbaugh died after a line drive struck him in the side of the head while he stood in the coaches’ box, bursting a major blood vessel in his neck.

Keeping players safe has presented more of an issue, however. Players, for the most part, have a definite interest in some of the advances being made around the subject of head protection, but not at the cost of their ability to feel comfortable playing the game.

In recent years, many adult slowpitch pitchers have started turning to protective headgear. Bat technology has made toeing the rubber in adult leagues a dangerous avocation, as the ball can be launched at scary speeds. However, the slowpitch pitcher is a different beast than those who pitch in baseball.  A longer delay between the ball leaving the pitcher’s hand allows them to not only back up, but also get in to a balanced position to better field an oncoming ball. A less strenuous pitching motion also allows them to wear headgear that would wreak havoc with a baseball pitcher’s windup.

After MLB pitchers Doug Fister and Brandon McCarthy both suffered head injuries from batted balls in 2012, the league fast-tracked research in to cranial protection for pitchers. However, though a few contenders have emerged, testing the prototypes have sent manufacturers back to the drawing board with notes on what big leaguers liked or disliked.

Easton-Bell was first to unveil headgear in 2011 designed specifically for baseball players. Dubbed the “Dome,” the protective helmet fit over a pitcher’s hat. It was made out of a very lightweight material produced by Absorb Energy, but it did not make it very far in the open market.

Recently, a new product by Unequal called the HALO has been popping up. Made of lightweight Kevlar, the HALO is an insert worn inside the hat. Unequal states that the HALO can reduce the force of impact by 50 percent. Hopes are that it will succeed where others have failed in that it can be removed from the inside of the cap, and it also allows greater breathability to the user.

The search will unquestionably go on for a safe yet functional piece of equipment to help keep baseball players, especially pitchers, of all ages safe. Hopefully it will happen before another life is claimed on the diamond.

Sports Safety

Baseball and softball are fun for children and adults but the possibility of being hit in the head with a softball traveling 75 mph or more is very real.  For that reason, batters, catchers, and now pitchers and outfielders can wear protective headgear to prevent concussions and brain injuries.

Headgear for everyone

The batter and the catcher are the primary players who can be hit with a wayward ball.  The catcher is historically protected with a face helmet, padding and thick glove.  Major and minor league batters and Little League kids have worn helmets since 1971.

Minor and major league pitchers should be wearing better headgear after Tiger’s pitcher Doug Fister was hit in the head with a comeback ball in last year’s World Series. Brandon McCarthy of the Oakland A’s had brain surgery as the result of a concussion and epidural hemorrhage from a line drive. Blue Jay’s pitcher J.A. Happ was hit by a line drive last May and left the field on a stretcher. Alex Cobb with Tampa Bay is another victim and the list is growing.

If top pros who can control the ball can be injured, softball players are are even more susceptible even if the ball only weighs six ounces. Some youth leagues require the pitcher to wear a helmet and recommend it for other positions.

A batter who is able to run the bases can run into a player protecting the base and both can knock heads. This has also happened in professional baseball.

Testing headgear

The National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) has set performance standards for baseball and softball helmets for professionals and amateurs.

Professional MLB pitchers are willing to wear pitcher’s helmets if they don’t interfere with their pitching skills including the “wind-up”. The possibility of a hat with a padded kevlar lining is being developed and tested.

According to NOCSAE,  helmets must undergo several impact tests before getting the organization’s seal of approval. The helmet is positioned  on a dummy 24 inches from the ball release site and various impact speeds are tested.

Helmets of all sizes for all players must be tested since they are made for children and adults. The composition of the helmet is important with padding inside of a plastic shell.  NOCSAE warns people not to wear a helmet with any sign of a crack.

Concussion Symptoms

Dizziness, a severe headache, nausea, vomiting and blurred vision are signs of concussion.  A concussion results from blunt force trauma to the skull.  The impact can also cause internal bleeding and other damage to brain tissue.

If a victim looses consciousness, 911 emergency medical services should be contacted immediately.  It is not wise to move an unconscious person without professional medical assistance.

People who have undergone laser or cataract eye surgery are susceptible to detached retinas as the result of a concussion.  A person experiencing blurred or graying vision should immediately see an eye specialist.

In some cases the symptoms continue for several hours or they reappear within 24 hours. Post concussion symptoms including fatigue, nervousness and headaches should not be ignored.

Prevention

Many manufacturers of sports headgear surpass NOCSAE requirements. It is always a good idea to shop around for the best safety equipment to make softball safe and fun.

StartTheConvo

Start the Convo

Player safety has become the top priority for sports leagues from the professional all the way down to grammar school. One of the main focuses has been on head trauma and concussions. The National Football League has made a very public effort to reduce the number of concussions suffered by their players. Major League Baseball and all the leagues under it should be taking the same steps. It is time that the baseball community to look for ways to protect the pitcher. At all levels the pitcher is the most vulnerable player on the field. Batters wear helmets and sometimes guards on their shins and elbows to protect them from the ball. Catchers wear shin guards, helmets, face masks and chest protectors. Even the umpires wear protective gear. This is all to protect the players from balls that are coming in.

But the pitcher has no protection from balls that are coming out. And many times those balls are coming out a lot faster than they are going in. With batters using aluminum bats baseballs and softballs are heading towards the pitcher at speeds over 100 miles per hour.

The answer to pitcher protection is to have them wear a pitcher’s helmet. This will effectively cut down on the number of head trauma in baseball and softball.

One of the most recent incidents of an MLB pitcher getting his with a line drive happened in April of 1203 when Toronto Blue Jays’ pitcher, J. A. Happ, suffered a fractured bone behind his left ear after being struck by a hit ball.

Whenever a pitcher gets injured by a hit ball the discussion of pitcher safety is brought up. Unfortunately, it dies down rather quickly. It is time for players and coaches to keep the conversation going.

The change will have to happen at the local level first. Coaches from local baseball and softball leagues will have to demand that pitchers helmets become mandatory for their players.

There are already a number of pitchers helmets models on the market today. They are lightweight and provide protection for the pitcher’s head and face. There are helmets designed specifically for slow and fast pitch softball. They are the same price as a batting helmet so there really is no excuse not to have all pitchers wearing them.

There will surely be pitchers who say they do not want to wear protective helmets. They will say the helmets are too bulky and interfere with their pitching motion. The same was said about the batting helmet and now every hitter wears one.

It will take time, and dedicated coaches and players, before the pitchers helmet is a permanent part of baseball and softball. If the conversation about pitcher’s safety continues leagues around the country will have to address it and find a solution. Hopefully, it will not take a tragedy for these leagues to take action to protect the most vulnerable player on the field.

StartTheConvo

 

Risk of injury increases as players age

When a youngster is starting to play baseball or softball for the first time in their lives, injuries are a concern that parents face with each game and practice. Although it seems that children are the most vulnerable to injury when they are starting out at an age such as 4 or 5 years old, that isn’t true. The risk of serious injury (namely head injury), increases as children age towards higher levels of play in the sport.

Think of it this way: when a 5-year-old is starting their baseball careers by playing tee ball, the injury risk is minimal. There is no ball moving towards them at high speeds from the pitchers mound, for starters. After that, it’s a struggle for them to get around the base paths at a high speed which creates almost no chance for a major leg injury. The likelihood of an infielder accidentally striking them with a baseball as they round the bases is also eliminated as they just simply do not have the arm strength.

All of that changes, though, as a child starts to grow up and play more competitive baseball or softball. As the transition moves from tee ball to little league and then middle and high school ball, the risk of injury increases tenfold. Instead of hitting a stationary ball off of a tee, pitchers of the player’s same age and skill level take the mound. They are out there trying to their hardest to throw the ball with as much velocity as possible, but since they are still developing, can be very errant with their pitching direction.

That’s just the risk that batters are facing at the plate. There is an added danger as they work their way around the base paths, as well. As they become faster, there will be a higher sense of urgency for the fielders to attempt to get them out at every base. This can result in being struck with a thrown ball at each base. There’s also the matter of a batted ball being hit in their direction while running the bases. This can be an even bigger problem for the infielders if they are hit since they are not wearing the same protective helmet as the base runner.

That’s why it is important for each position to wear the proper head protection, especially the pitcher. Catchers are the closest fielders to the batter, but with their protective equipment at all levels, they are rarely injured by batted balls. Pitchers are the next closest to the batter’s box, but don’t normally wear a helmet. When a ball is hit directly back at a pitcher, it usually means it was hit right on the sweet spot of the bat as balls hit straight up the middle were struck perfectly.

Pitchers are allotted almost no reaction time to protect themselves, which is why a pitcher’s helmet is important on the mound, especially as the age of the players and the level of competition increases. Each year, it’s important for coaches and parents to take a closer look at the player’s safety and assess what equipment will be the most effective.

RiskofInjuryIncreasesAsPlayersAge

Better safe than sorry

Many of us know how dangerous sports such as motocross, skateboarding, horseback riding, and bike riding can be: in most instances, protective head gear is a must. Yet, in terms of baseball and softball, why aren’t the same safety criteria in place? Batters wear helmets to protect against getting beaned by an errant throw. But, what about pitchers who can only stand idly by as their 97-mph fastball comes whizzing back at them? In softball, too, there have been concussions up to more serious head injuries sustained.

From the youth level up to the pros, baseball and softball can be a potentially dangerous endeavor with freak accidents occurring which have seriously injured — and, in a few horrific cases, killed — young players. So, what safety measures are currently being undertaken in these sports to improve pitcher safety? And what safety precautions need to be implemented, no matter what the cost? Read on to find out.

Baseball

Due to a litany of frightening head injuries from line drive comebackers — most notably Brandon McCarthy of the Oakland Athletics in which he suffered a fracture of the skull and J.A. Happ in this scary incident — in 2012-13, Major League Baseball was investigating how to implement protective headgear for its Minor League pitchers. At those speeds, a skull fracture is the normal consequence, and, according to Dr. Barry Jordan, the director of brain injury rehab at Burke Rehabilitation Center in White Plains, New York, one of these line drive hits may eventually produce a much more dire (i.e.: lethal) result.

Some players and coaches believe helmets aren’t practical for pitchers. How would it stay on? Would it be too heavy? Might it change the way they throw? For now, it seems the MLB is looking to products which can be worn underneath the player’s cap, providing as much protection as possible while not being too bulky. Items like a foam or Kevlar sheet within the cap are options on the table. In late-2012, approximately a dozen MLB pitchers tried padded caps, retrofitted with Unequal’s CRT specialized padding for increased protection against line drives.

Yet, according to Ken Rosenthal — and many medical experts — a helmet is the best protection for pitchers. The only thing that’s certain is the increasing number of incidents has moved up the timetable for action and it’s now time for a serious discussion.

Softball

In both men’s and women’s softball, safety is a growing concern. Even slow-pitch softball leagues around the country are looking for increased pitcher protection. No matter level, age, or strength, many players are concerned about the chance of something terrible happening. Many softball pitchers want to be protected with a pitchers helmet, shin guards, and chest protector, at least.

Start Young

At all sports levels there has been an outcry for pitcher helmets in order to remove these serious, potentially life-threatening injuries from the game. According to parents, players, and experts, to start a young pitcher out early on with protective headgear would be beneficial as it would get them comfortable wearing the gear and also express to others (at an early age) that it’s smart to protect one’s self with pitcher helmets. As they moved through the ranks — with pitcher helmets becoming commonplace — it would just be a normal thing. And, in the end, isn’t it better to be safe than sorry?

BetterSafeThanSorry

Evolution of athletic gear

Although history of baseball and softball date back to before the turn of the 20th century, it took quite a bit of time for the equipment of the sports to catch up. It wasn’t until 1895 that the bat used in baseball finally reached an agreeable regulation size, which has been used up until this day.

The glove, on the other hand, is still evolving as he game grows. Can you believe it wasn’t until the late 1870′s that the practice of protecting your hand to catch the ball became commonplace? It’s true, in the early days of the sport, players that didn’t catch the balls with their bare hands (even the catchers) were considered less manly. It seems ridiculous now that there was even a debate, but common sense tends to catch up with society (albeit, slowly).

Now you see state of the art gloves that not only allow for safety, but high performance that has reduced catching mistakes to nearly nothing compared to the old days. The catcher’s mask has also seen an enormous upgrade from their debut. It was in 1877 that the first catcher’s mask was introduced using an old fencing helmet. With catchers taking too many foul tips, though, there had to be a change. Padding was added in the 1930′s to surround the entire head area for catchers, ensuring that any blow to the front of the helmet would be softened. Today, it has evolved to the point where there is protection around the entire head, and not just the front, and the helmets resemble that of a hockey goalkeeper’s.

It isn’t only the catchers that need protection for their heads, either. The batters were well behind the catcher’s in terms of head protection in the early 20th century. After Mickey Cochrane nearly died after taking a pitch to the head which fractured his skull in 1937, baseball helmets for batters became a mandatory practice.

The batter’s helmet has seen modifications on par with football helmets. Over time, ear flaps were introduced to protect the sensitive areas on the side of the head that faces the pitcher. Special padding and air flow have also been introduced to the helmet to make it more comfortable and safe for the batters, all while keeping their head cooler in the grueling summer months.

Currently, all Major League Baseball batters are required to wear the Rawlings S100 Pro Comp. It is a helmet that has been designed to withstand the impact of a ball traveling 100 miles per hour, from just two feet away. With the evolution in batter’s helmets, though, only Ryan Dempster of the Chicago Cubs has worn a helmet while pitching.

And that’s where the next step in the timeline of player’s safety lies, in the pitchers. There have been several pitchers over the course of baseball history that have withstood severe head injuries. We all remember the devastating blow to the head Oakland A’s pitcher Brandon McCarthy took a line drive directly in the head last September. It makes you wonder why they don’t make it mandatory, with the type of protection it offers. Only time will tell if pitchers will adapt with modern times and adopt these helmets, but it is the only logical next step in the timeline of player safety.

 

 

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