New Protections for Baseball Pitchers
Mention traumatic brain injury and student athletes, and few people think about baseball. However, balls struck off aluminum bats can reach speeds close to 100 mph, causing serious risk of injury to the pitcher.
In October, 2012, Major League Baseball announced that it is looking for ways to protect pitchers from line drive injuries to the head, such as the injury to Tigers starting pitcher Doug Fister from a line drive during the World Series. MLB is considering a variety of head gear for pitchers, including cap Kevlar liners.
Little league is ahead of MLB, with many youth leagues across the country requiring young pitchers to wear protective head gear while on the mound. In 2010, high school pitcher Gunnar Sandberg was sidelined when a line-drive traveling at over 100 mph struck his skull, causing a life threatening traumatic brain injury. A year later, Gunnar returned to pitching, wearing a 5 pound helmet to protect his skull. President of Little League Baseball, Stephen Keener, is hopeful that this will catch on with younger players.
The youth pitching helmet was first designed by Easton-Bell as part of a movement to reduce traumatic brain injuries to student athletes. The helmet is made from expanded polystyrene, a lightweight material adept at absorbing energy: