Catastrophic Injuries in High School and College Baseball Players

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There are few epidemiologic studies of catastrophic baseball injuries.


To develop a profile of catastrophic injuries in baseball players and to describe relevant risk factors.

Study Design

Retrospective cohort study.


The authors reviewed 41 incidents of baseball injuries reported to the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research from 1982 until 2002.


There were an estimated 1.95 direct catastrophic injuries per year, or 0.43 injuries per 100,000 participants. The most common mechanisms of injury were a collision of fielders (9) or of a base runner and a fielder (8), a pitcher hit by a batted ball (14), and an athlete hit by a thrown ball (4). Catastrophic injuries included 23 severe head injuries, 8 cervical injuries, 3 cases of commotio cordis, and 2 cases each of a collapsed trachea and facial fractures. Three athletes sustained a severe head injury and facial fractures. Ten of the 41 injuries were fatalities.


Suggestions for reducing catastrophic injuries in baseball include teaching proper techniques to avoid fielding and baserunning collisions, protecting the pitcher via a combination of screens and/or helmets with faceguards, continued surveillance and modifications of the bat and ball, eliminating headfirst slides, and continued analysis of chest protectors and automatic external defibrillators for commotio cordis.

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