What is Commotio Cordis?
Commotio Cordis is a heart rhythm disruption caused by a blow to the chest and one of the leading causes of sudden cardiac death in athletes. The condition is an episode of ventricular fibrillation induced by a direct blow to the chest over the heart during a specific portion of the heart’s electrical cycle. This can be caused by a direct hit from an object such as a baseball or lacrosse ball, a lacrosse stick or even a collision with another player. The impact doesn’t have to be hard or high velocity. It’s estimated that approximately 15 to 25 athletes die every year from this event. Most of these deaths are males under the age of 18, many of whom were wearing a form of chest protection when they were hit. Commotio cordis deaths have been recorded in baseball, lacrosse, football, soccer, martial arts and other recreational activities.
In the Fall of 2019 a Commotio Cordis tragedy was averted at a local lacrosse tournament. After being hit in the chest, a player was resuscitated by a game referee who was trained in CPR.
National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment Commissioning (NOCSAE)
The NOCSAE researched and developed the world’s first performance standard to protect against commotio cordis, one of the leading causes of sudden cardiac death in young athletes. The standard applies to either baseball or lacrosse, and a current list of products that meet these standards is available through the Safety Equipment Institute.
Visit US Lacrosse for more information about requirements for this standard.
New Equipment Standards
US Lacrosse is the first governing body to take action to mandate this standard.
Beginning in 2021, US Lacrosse will require that all goalies in girls’ and boys’ lacrosse wear protectors that meet the new NOCSAE Commotio Cordis performance standard. This requirement will extend to all field players in boys’ lacrosse beginning in 2022.
The Safety Equipment Institute is the only entity that certifies equipment to NOCSAE standards. Review their current list of products that meet the standards for lacrosse gear.
With the support of US Lacrosse and the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), NOCSAE believes that compliance with the standard will enhance player safety and effectively address what is often a catastrophic injury.
What can you do?
For future chest protector purchases, check the list of products certified by the Safety Equipment Institute. The rules for meeting the NOCSAE Commotio Cordis performance standard will become mandatory with the upcoming 2021 & 2022 US Lacrosse requirement (above). Also, while the odds of a Commotio Cordis player injury are low, ensuring that more people attending a lacrosse game are prepared with up-to-date training in CPR and AED operation will help in the event this does happen.