What Parents Need to Know to Protect Young Athletes from a Deadly Injury

What Parents Need to Know to Protect Young Athletes from a Deadly Injury

For the first time, chest protector products are available this season for youth lacrosse and baseball players that meet the NOCSAE (The National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment) standard to protect against commotio cordis, one of the leading causes of sudden cardiac death in young athletes. For Karen Acompora, this is a milestone in her family’s efforts to protect youth athletes from this deadly injury and honor the memory of her son, Louis J. Acompora. In 2000, Louis died from commotio cordis after a blow to his chest during his first high school lacrosse game. He was fourteen.

Commotio cordis is a heart rhythm disruption caused by a direct hit to the chest from an object such as a baseball, lacrosse ball or lacrosse stick. It’s estimated that approximately 5-25 youth athletes die every year from this event. Most of these deaths are boys under the age of 18, many of whom were wearing a form of chest protection when they were hit. Youth sports should be not only fun, but as safe as possible.

Recently, I had the chance to talk to NOCSAE Executive Director Mike Oliver and Karen Acompora, President of the Louis J Acompora Memorial Foundation, about the scientific breakthrough that leds to the development of this new safety standard and the critical steps parents and coaches can take to protect our kids on the baseball and lacrosse field.

Check out the entire interview here.

Here are some highlights from the interview:

  • Why it’s important for parents, coaches and players to understand the risk of commotio cordis
  • How NOCSAE and the Louis J. Acompora Memorial Foundation advanced groundbreaking research to develop the new chest protector standard
  • The steps the Louis J. Acompora Memorial Foundation is taking to educate parents and coaches about the new NOCSAE chest protector standard; and raise money to provide AEDs at sports fields and facilities to help save young athletes that experience commotio cordis
  • How parents can find protective products that meet the NOCSAE commotio cordis standard – including traditional style chest protectors and smaller products such as compression shirts.

For more information, go to nocsae.org or la12.org.

Mike Oliver (Executive Director, NOCSAE):

Mike Oliver has been the Executive Director and General Counsel for NOCSAE since 1995. NOCSAE is an independent and nonprofit standards development body with the sole mission to enhance athletic safety through scientific research and the creation of performance standards for athletic equipment. Since its inception, NOCSAE has been a leading force in the effort to improve equipment and reduce injuries through robust standards for athletic equipment in a wide range of sports, including football, baseball, lacrosse, softball and soccer.

As Executive Director, Oliver manages NOCSAE operations and serves as a resource for the public on questions regarding equipment performance, safety, and injury prevention in connection with athletic equipment that have been certified to NOCSAE standards. In addition to speaking at many athletic and coaching events around the country, Mr. Oliver has testified before Congress, and regularly provides support and input to subcommittees of various sport governing bodies including the NCAA and the NFHS.

Karen Acompora (President, Louis J. Acompora Memorial Foundation):

Karen Acompora is the co-founder of the Louis J. Acompora Memorial Foundation and currently serves as president. The foundation was established in memory of her son Louis J. Acompora, who died from commotio cordis while playing lacrosse as a high school freshman. The foundation was created to ensure children and parents are aware of the dangers of commotio cordis and the importance of athletic equipment, cardiac emergency response plans, and automated external defibrillators (AEDs).

Acompora has led efforts resulting in legislative reform, such as “Louis Law” passed in New York in 2002, requiring all New York State schools have an AED program and students are trained in CPR/AED education. The foundation also funded research to develop the NOCSAE standard for chest protectors preventing commotio cordis.

Acompora is a founding member of Parent Heart Watch, serving as board chair, and has been honored by the American Heart Association, Medtronic Foundation and New York State Athletic Administrators Association, among others, for her devoted work.

Interview Courtesy of NOCSAE

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Cynthia Tait

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