Traumatic Brain Injuries In Baseball Can Be Catastrophic, and Mostly Preventable With Universal Helmet Use

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Michael D. Cusimano MD, FRCSC, DABNS, FACS, PhD, MHPE Adjunct Scientist in the Keenan Research Centre of the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael's Hospital Division of Neurosurgery, St. Michael\'s Hospital Professor of Neurosurgery, Education and Public Health University of Toronto

Dr. Cusimano

Michael D. Cusimano MD, FRCSC, DABNS, FACS, PhD, MHPE
Adjunct Scientist in the Keenan Research Centre of the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael’s Hospital
Division of Neurosurgery, St. Michael\’s Hospital
Professor of Neurosurgery, Education and Public Health
University of Toronto

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Baseball is played by millions annually and is traditionally seen as a low risk sport for head injury when compared to sports like American Football, Ice Hockey and Rugby. Over 6 million children and youth are enrolled in formal baseball or softball leagues annually.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: Although less common that in other contact sports, these injuries are not infrequent and can be catastrophic. Baseball and softball are “safe sports with hidden risks” that are not well appreciated, especially by recreational players.

  • Injuries are more likely during games rather than practice
  • Females have higher rates of injury than males but since more males play the sports, they sustain more injuries overall.
  • These injuries are increasing over time and are more common as the level of play increases.
  • Being hit by a ball is the commonest mechanism.
  • Young children are frequently struck by a bat.
  • Collisions with other players and objects (like a wall or fence) are other common mechanisms.
  • All positions are prone to injury, not just batters and catchers.
  • Fewer than 7% of people attending an emergency department for these injuries was wearing a helmet.
  • Poor compliance with recommendations surrounding return to play and use of helmets.

MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response: Traumatic brain injuries do occur in baseball and softball, can be catastrophic and are largely preventable by proper and universal use of helmets and rules that govern rules of play and recovery from injury.  Young children, especially, should be closely supervised around bats and taught about safe distances from bats and batters.

To achieve the goal of reducing these injuries requires the engagement and work of everyone involved in the sport directly or indirectly: players, coaches, parents, leagues, school and other organizations, sponsors and others.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Regular surveillance is required and studies of the effectiveness of these interventions would move the field forward. New engineering around safer bats, balls, helmets, fields etc. will also be important.

Disclosure: I am a neurosurgeon and wish that no one else will ever sustain a TBI from baseball or softball.

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.

Citation:

Michael D. Cusimano, Alice Zhu. Systematic Review of Traumatic Brain Injuries in Baseball and Softball: A Framework for Prevention. Frontiers in Neurology, 2017; 8 DOI: 10.3389/fneur.2017.00492

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions. 

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