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What parents should know about commotio cordis

Posted at 7:00 AM, Jan 04, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-04 09:00:32-05

Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin’s tragic collapse on the field has people worried about the athlete who is now sedated on a ventilator.

Another concern with all of this is for parents, who might be worried to put their kids in football. Many are speculating that the reason behind Hamlin’s cardiac arrest is a condition known as “commotio cordis.” To put it simply, this happens when the heart stops because of an impact on the chest. But is it common in football or was this an anomaly?

I spoke with Kevin Roberts, an athletic trainer at UCHealth who specializes in injury prevention, functional training, and responding to emergencies, like commotio cordis. He tells me this is very rare.

According to research done by the Journal of American Medical Association, commotio cordis is most likely to happen during games of baseball, softball, and hockey.

Roberts tells me UCHealth has been working with local school districts, including D20, D11, D49, and D2 to make sure they are keeping our local high school athletes safe. The partnership has allowed school trainers to have portable A-E-Ds on them in the event of an emergency on the field.

UCHealth is also offering to provide trainers to schools who need the extra hand because they have multiple sporting events in a night. All of this is to make sure our local athletes are safe.

“Trying to make sure that not only do these schools have athletic training at their disposal, but also like we talked about, the a-e-p’s, the injury prevention programs, all the things that these athletic trainers and these schools need to make sure the athletes are safe not just during the event, but prior to the event,” said Roberts.

“For these big injuries, neck injuries, concussions, second impact syndrome, commotio cordis, events like this where a trained medical professional can handle, if an athletic trainer is there, we can recognize this event and take the appropriate action.”

Having athletic trainers at sporting events. And coaches, parents, and athletes educated on how to do CPR and use an A-E-D can be lifesaving in the case that this happens.

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