Although many know that lacrosse is one of the fast growing sports in America, what most of these people do not know is that lacrosse is one of the most fatal sports. The dangers of lacrosse are much graver than the common sport injuries of broken bones, concussions, and joint damage. Lacrosse players have a high risk of commotio cordis—a rare condition in which a sudden blow to the chest by a blunt object will disrupt the heart’s rhythm, resulting in sudden cardiac arrest. This injury is mainly incurred when a defensive player is—according to those who play the game—“doing what needs to be done” by running at a player shooting the ball. The object is to get hit in the body with the ball, thus keeping it from the goal.
According to a 2009 study published in the journal Pediatrics, 23 male lacrosse players ranging in ages between 16 and 20 were listed in the Sudden Death in Young Athletes Registry from 1980 to 2008. Media coverage of this is lacking. The most recent national coverage was an online ABC News article rating lacrosse #1 on its list of the 11 most hazardous high-school sports.
US Lacrosse, the governing body of lacrosse in the United States, is inadequately educating players and coaches about the dangers of commotio cordis. Instead, US Lacrosse has made a deal with Cardiac Science, a leading producer of defibrillators, to discount the prices of the devices to member players.
“AED Education & Commotio Cordis.” US Lacrosse, December 13, 2013, http://www.uslacrosse.org/about-the-sport/health-safety/aed-education-commotio-cordis/commotio-cordis-lacrosse.aspx.
“AED Grant Program,” US Lacrosse, December 13, 2013, http://www.uslacrosse.org/resources/programs-grants/aed-grant-program.aspx.
Joseph Brownstein and Jenny Chan, “Lacrosse Most Dangerous for Heart-Stopping Shots,” ABC News, August 10, 2009, http://abcnews.go.com/Health/HeartHealth/story?id=8276668.
Barry J. Maron, et al. “Commotio Cordis and the Epidemiology of Sudden Death in Competitive Lacrosse,” Pediatrics 124, no. 3 (2009), http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/124/3/966.full.pdf.
“Solutions for Schools & Athletics,” Cardiac Science, December 13, 2013, http://www.cardiacscience.com/solutions/schools-athletics/.
Student Researcher: Jason Ascher (Frostburg State University)
Faculty Evaluator: Andy Duncan (Frostburg State University)