Waco little league teams encourage players to buy extra gear to avoid cardiac issues

KWTX (Waco, Texas)

March 15, 2023

Some sporting goods stores are starting to sell out of gear designed to provide additional protection for little leaguers.

Teams are encouraging players to get the Heart-Gard Protective Body Shirt so the guard plate can absorb any potential impact in the chest area.

Some parents expressed concerns recently after a baseball smacked a local 13-year-old pitcher in the chest, causing him to spit up blood.

Theresa Jackson is a softball coach for GG4L who has been coaching baseball and softball for 10 years.

She says she wasn’t surprised when she heard some little league teams are encouraging players to wear the Heart-Gard Protective Body Shirt.

“It could be very serious and traumatizing for young people. So, if the ball hits them in the chest and knocks the wind out of them, sometimes they don’t know exactly what’s going on,” said Jackson.

The guard is over the chest so it could, potentially, lessen injuries from chest blows.

“It’s a good design for the young people because it’s a second layer of protection, maybe even security for them to actually give them confidence,” said Jackson.

However, Nilesh Goswami, director of cardiac lab at Baylor Scott and White Medical Center-Hillcrest Hospital, said there aren’t many studies on if the Heart Gard truly protects players from impact.

“We really aren’t aware of any proof that these shirts, specific the one that was sent to me, that this is beneficial at all in terms of preventing any cardiac injury or arrhythmia that’s caused by blunt force trauma to the chest,” said Goswami.

Goswami said this trauma to the chest can cause commotio cordis.

He said it results to an abnormal heart rate that can be lethal.

Jackson and Goswami recommends players to either turn their back to the ball or use a glove for additional padding.

“Player’s safety and comfort of playing the game is our top priority. Anything that we can do to protect the young people, to make the sports safer and keep the young people interested in playing, than I think we should use it.”

Health experts said Tufts University conducted studies on different type of chest protectors and they say the effectiveness rate is based on the thickness of the padding.

According to the study, chest protectors with more padding are SEI certified.

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