Lacrosse and commotio cordis

November 3, 2009 by  

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Doing sports is a healthy pastime. For children and adolescents, sports can be the cure for obesity andLacrosse social problems.

Lacrosse is become a very popular sports In American schools. There are some concerns, whoever that the sports can be dangerous. A friend of mine didn’t allow her 14-year old son to play lacrosse because of these concerns.

In 2004, George Boiardi of Cornell University got hit with a lacrosse ball in the chest, causing his heart to stop. His was not an isolated case.

A recent report analysed the statistics of this popular game, as summarized below:

  • Since 1980, 23 lacrosse players in the US suffered from sports-related accident that led to cardiac arrest.
  • 19 of those players died; only 4 survived.

It is easily imaginable for athletes who play American football or rugby to sustain fatal injuries during a game. But lacrosse? How could a lacrosse ball kill a person? It is probably due to commotio cordis, “a condition in which an impact of blunt force arriving within a specific range of 15 thousandths of a second in the heart’s beating cycle sends an electrical impulse to the heart, stopping it.” Commotio cordis is a Latin terms which means “commotion of the heart”. A lacrosse ball hitting the chest at a precise moment can cause ventricular fibrillation,

a condition in which the heart’s electrical activity becomes disordered. The heart’s lower (pumping) chambers contract in a rapid, unsynchronized way and little or no blood is pumped from the heart. Collapse and sudden death follows unless medical help is provided immediately.

However, experts say it is a very rare event, a one-in-a-million shot. We shouldn’t let such rare occurrence discourage us and our kids from doing sports.

And because doctors, PE teachers and coaches are more aware of the risks, more preventive measures are in place, such:

  • Protective chest gears
  • Automated external defibrillators (AEDs)

The presence of AEDs during sports events has saved many lives. According to the report, two lacrosse players suffered from commotion cordis in 2008 and survived.

According to Dr. Jeff Mandak, a cardiologist in Harrisburg, Pa., and a member of U.S. Lacrosse’s safety board

“When there were two episodes of commotio cordis on the field a year, a year and a half ago … because these coaches recognized that this was a potential devastating injury … they called for a defibrillator and both kids survived”.

Photo credit: wikicommons

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