U.S. Lacrosse–Chest Protectors

John Strohsacker

US Lacrosse, the national governing body of men’s and women’s lacrosse, enthusiastically supports today’s final approval for a chest protector standard by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE).

Initially proposed in January, 2016 and known officially as the Standard Test Method and Performance Specification Used in Evaluating the Performance Characteristics of Chest Protectors for Commotio Cordis, the standard received formal approval during NOCSAE’s winter board meeting in Phoenix.

NOCSAE’s procedures now allow for a period of at least twelve (12) months before implementation of an effective date for the new standard. This time period is typically used by manufacturers to produce and retool products to meet the outlined performance specifications.

The chest protection standard was developed based on substantial research and testing conducted by Dr. Mark Link, a board-certified cardiac electrophysiologist and worldwide authority on commotio cordis. Link’s research yielded promising results for an equipment intervention to help reduce the likelihood of commotio cordis.

While quite rare in lacrosse, commotio cordis occurs when a blunt blow to the chest wall directly over the heart happens during a precise moment in the heart’s cycle, disrupting the heart’s normal rhythm and causing cardiac arrest. Sadly, many of the occurrences have happened despite the use of chest protection.

“US Lacrosse is grateful for NOCSAE’s leadership in voting to approve a chest protection standard to address commotio cordis. Over the past 17 years, US Lacrosse and NOCSAE have dedicated funding to advance groundbreaking research by Dr. Link, and the cumulative results have guided the establishment of a performance standard for such an important piece of protective equipment,” said Steve Stenersen, president and CEO of US Lacrosse. “Our organization is committed to working with rule making bodies in lacrosse to incorporate the use of NOCSAE-certified chest protectors in the sport, where appropriate.”

“This is an unprecedented breakthrough in sports protection,” said Mike Oliver, executive director of NOCSAE. “Scientists have pinpointed the exact cause of commotio cordis, including the critical moment of occurrence in the cardiac cycle and the required threshold to prevent the injury.”

Speaking about the standard in an interview last year, Oliver said, “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.”

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