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Batted Balls Threaten High School Baseball Players
Date:6/5/2008

High school athletes should wear head protection, study says

THURSDAY, June 5 (HealthDay News) -- Most high school baseball players should wear headgear on the field to protect them from injuries from batted balls, a new study suggests.

At the very least, players should consider wearing mouth guards, said study author Christy Collins, although she acknowledges that changing the culture of baseball may be a challenge.

"We really want to make sure kids keep participating in sports, we just want them to be as safe as possible," said Collins, a research associate at the Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

Nearly 500,000 males play baseball at U.S. high schools each year, according to background information for the study. (Females typically play softball.)

Collins and a colleague examined the results of a survey of injuries in athletic programs at 100 high schools across the country, from 2005 to 2007.

A total of 431 baseball injuries were reported for every 341,000 "athletic exposures," each defined as one athlete playing in a practice or game. This produced a rate of 1.26 injuries per 1,000 exposures.

The shoulder was the most commonly injured body part (17.6 percent of injuries), followed by the ankle (13.6 percent) and the head or face (12.3 percent).

Fifty of the injuries were caused by players being hit by batted balls, and nearly two-thirds of those balls were to the head/face and mouth/teeth. Nearly one in five batted ball injuries required surgery, the study revealed.

"We found that not only were pitchers at risk of being hit by a batted ball, but also batters were at risk as well as infielders," Collins said.

Based on their findings, the study authors recommend that pitchers, batters and infielders wear helmets with face shields. At the least, the players -- especially pitchers -- should wear mouth guards to prot
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