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MLB pitchers now wearing protective caps to protect against brain injury

July 26, 2014 by Steven M. Gursten

As Hippocrates said, “No head injury is too severe to despair of, nor too trivial to ignore.” And as an attorney who helps car accident victims, many who have traumatic brain injury (TBI), I couldn’t agree more. The brain cannot be taken lightly, even though our sports culture has for decades shrugged off concerns about concussion and brain injuries.

I’m happy to see this is changing.  We are reading about steps the NFL is taking to deal with the concussion crisis in football.  And now the MLB is recognizing the seriousness of brain injury to its athletes.

Alex Torres is the first pitcher to wear a protective cap that the MLB approved in January for pitchers — to prevent traumatic brain injury and concussion.

It’s an important safety development as athletes continue to sustain concussions that threaten their lives and can affect them indefinitely, especially if they jump back into the game too soon. If an athlete or car accident victim has a concussion, the brain needs time to heal. And while the brain is healing, the injury victim is more likely to sustain another concussion.

As an Executive Board Member of the American Association for Justice Traumatic Brain Injury Lawyer Group, protecting athletes (professional and students) has been an important part of our public safety and advocacy efforts in recent years, especially when it comes to educating coaches at all levels in sports, sending an athlete who “just had their bell rung” back into a game can have horrific consequences.

For instance, take a look at Dale Earnhardt’s story about his repeat concussions, which had delayed symptoms.

In some cases, concussions can result in brain swelling or permanent brain damage. They can even be fatal, such as the skiing accident with Natasha Richardson.

About the pitcher’s helmet: 4Licensing Corporation makes the new IsoBLOX Protective Caps, which its website describes as “breakthrough technology to protect Major League Baseball pitchers from line drive come-backers.” The protective caps have padding imbedded inside the side and front. The optional equipment was made available to pitchers during spring training , according to MLB.com.

Line drives back to the mound have caused several brain and facial injuries to pitchers over the past few years, some very serious.

Said pitcher Torres in a recent article by CNN:

“It’s a good idea they make this kind of hat to protect my head. You want to protect life. I don’t have a kid yet, but I want to see my kid grow up.”

Torres also noted that he thinks children should be using these caps, as children use aluminum bats. I commend Torres for thinking beyond protecting his own head and projecting this safety issue onto our next generation. It’s clear that Torres is baseball’s newest pioneer.

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