Sports safety leaders meeting in Indy about protecting student athletes

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Indianapolis, Ind. (April 12, 2016) – Industry leaders in sports safety will meet in Indianapolis Tuesday to talk about protecting student athletes.

It’s a chance for sporting goods manufacturers, among others, to talk directly with the governing bodies about actual and possible rule changes to safety standards.

Mike Oliver will lead a session on the development of the first chest protector standard to address commotio cordis, a leading cause of sudden cardiac arrest in young athletes.

Oliver is the executive director of the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE).

According to NOCSAE, commotio cordis has killed 250 children since 1998, most under the age of 14.

On January 29, NOCSAE proposed the world’s first chest protector performance standard for commotio cordis.

“A young boy, I believe about 8 years old, was playing catch with his mom in the yard, she was throwing underhanded,  and the ball hit him in the chest and he wasn’t paying attention and he collapsed within a few seconds and died,” said Oliver. “The ball has to hit right over the cardiac silhouette and it has to hit at exactly the right point in the cardiac cycle, and if it does, that force transmits enough of an energy pulse to disrupt the rhythm of the heart.”

“If they are wearing a protector that meets the standard that we’ve published, I have an extremely high level of confidence that the chances of that person sustaining a sudden cardiac death from impact, is almost negligible.”

Oliver’s committee also develops standards for football helmets and other equipment.

Oliver says parents don’t need to worry about the brand of helmet a child wears to play the game.

“The brand makes no difference and the model makes no difference,” says Oliver. “What does make a difference is the condition of the helmet. So if you have a helmet that hasn’t been reconditioned or properly cared for in three or four or five years, the chances of getting a concussion in a helmet are higher than they would be in the other helmets. But if you recondition it at least every year or every other year, get it recertified, maintain its integrity, it’ll fit better, it will  perform better and therefore there’s no difference in the likelihood of concussion.”

Oliver says the perfect helmet is not out there and he’s not sure it ever will be, but some companies are making advances.

“One company here locally, SG Helmets by Bill Simpson, has created a thing with Chip Ganassi, using a Kevlar carbon fiber shell that’s extremely light and a completely different kind of energy management system inside the helmet. We’ve seen Xenith do the same thing with air bladders and thermoplastic urethane. Everybody’s approaching it from a different direction.”

Oliver will be talking to representatives from the NCAA, high schools, manufacturers and more.

The Sports & Fitness Industry Association, in cooperation with the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), is hosting the open forum from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency downtown.

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