US Lacrosse Magazine
April 19, 2021
To enhance player safety, US Lacrosse has long advocated for the presence of an automated external defibrillator (AED) at all lacrosse practices and games. Fortunately, an AED was on-site at last Friday’s high school game in Baltimore between Loyola Blakefield and McDonogh.
Late in the first quarter of the game, Loyola Blakefield’s Peter Laake, a freshman defenseman, was struck in the chest with a shot. He collapsed on the field and immediately received medical attention.
In addition to Loyola Blakefield’s training staff, two doctors came from the stands to assist with administering an AED on the field. A Baltimore County medical team arrived shortly thereafter to render further emergency care, and to transport Laake by ambulance to an area hospital.
After being kept for observation, Laake has now been released from the hospital and is doing well.
“Commotio cordis was the injury,” Loyola athletic trainer Jeremy Parr confirmed to The Baltimore Sun, which chronicled the incident. “He is alert, conscious and in good spirits.”
Categorized as a disruption of the heart’s rhythm, commotio cordis is a rare but potentially catastrophic phenomenon that results in sudden cardiac arrest. It occurs as a result of blow to the area of the chest directly over the heart during a precise moment in the heart’s cycle. The only effective response to commotio cordis is the timely delivery of a life-saving shock or defibrillation.
The good news, in addition to Laake’s recovery, is that new chest protection is now available that can prevent commotio cordis before it happens. The enhanced equipment for men’s and women’s game goalies and for boys’ and men’s field players is the result of years of research and development. US Lacrosse has worked with manufacturers and medical experts to bring this new equipment, which meets NOCSAE performance standard ND200, to the lacrosse community.
“We’re all extremely thankful to hear that Peter is doing well and that he received the immediate medical attention that was so critical in leading to a positive outcome,” said Rick Lake, men’s lacrosse director at US Lacrosse.
Lake also cited the importance of the new chest protection equipment.
“Unfortunately, there’s still not an AED on every field, which further highlights the importance of the new chest protection equipment that meets the NOCSAE standard,” Lake said. “That equipment is designed to stop this type of injury from happening, so we certainly encourage all players to begin wearing them as soon as possible.”
Beginning in 2021, the use of goalie chest protectors that meet the new NOCSAE performance standard became mandatory in the US Lacrosse boys’ and girls’ youth rules, the NFHS boys’ and girls’ high school rules, and the NCAA men’s and women’s rules.
Beginning in 2022, US Lacrosse boys’ field players, NFHS boys’ field players, and NCAA men’s field players must also wear chest protection that meets the NOCSAE ND200 standard. Many manufacturers have already begun producing those products, which must contain the NOCSAE logo and be certified by the Safety Equipment Institute (SEI) in order to be legal for play.
Consumers are encouraged to check the SEI website (www.seinet.org/search.htm) under Program: Chest Protectors (Lacrosse) to verify that a specific brand is listed as approved.
“The use of chest protection that meets the performance standard makes lacrosse safer,” said Dr. Mark Link, a member of the US Lacrosse Sports Science and Safety Committee and worldwide authority on commotio cordis.
US Lacrosse also works with The Louis J. Acompora Memorial Foundation to raise awareness among schools and other organizations about the importance of having automated external defibrillators. In 2000, 14-year-old Louis Acompora, a freshman lacrosse goalie for Northport High School in New York, died from commotio cordis after making a routine save in a game.