AEDs are life saving on and off the baseball diamond

2016-10-20 10:17:20 by Dr. Joe Congeni - Director of Sports Medicine, as posted on the blog.

little-league-baseball-playItís awareness week for a condition called commotio cordis, which occurs in children between the ages of 9 and 15.

When a child suffers a blow to the chest, particularly from a ball, he may immediately go into cardiac arrest. Itís life-threatening, yet very preventable. An AED can be life saving to these kids.

Today, I had the chance to speak with WAKR host Ray Horner about this topic and what we can do to prevent these devastating situations.

June is the peak month and baseball is the No. 1 sport where this happens most often.

Together, let's raise awareness and save lives in northeast Ohio.

Below is an audio file and transcript of our discussion.

HORNER: Our good friend, Dr. Joe Congeni, now onboard with us from Sports Medicine Center at Akron Childrenís Hospital. Another awareness week and you want to get the word out, Joe.

Dr. Joe Congeni Dr. Joe Congeni

DR. CONGENI: Yeah, Ray. Thanks for the opportunity to talk this week about awareness of a life-threatening, but preventable problem for kids in sports ó and itís younger kids.

For that reason, because young kids are so strong and healthy, people donít think that we can have sudden death related to sports. But, it happens every year in this country ó 3, 4, 5 times a year in different places in this country.

Thereís a condition called commotio cordis and, unfortunately, sometimes we get caught up in these big medical names.

But what this means is, itís a sudden cardiac death that occurs several times in the country while kids are playing sports.

Thereís a specific area in the chest that when they get a blow to this area, particularly from a ball ó they call it a projectile, but the size of a ball seems to be the size that causes this.

Thereís a disruption in their normal heart rhythm. Their heart goes into ventricular fibrillation when hit with a ball in the chest.

It doesnít happen when these kids are older. Itís rare over age 15. Itís rare under age 9. It occurs between ages 9 and 15 or so. Thatís the peak.

Baseball is the No. 1 sport. June is the No. 1 month. So in sports medicine, this week is awareness week because itís totally preventable and we can save lives if we think about it.

What will happen is youíll be at a Little League game, a kid gets hit right in the chest wall and collapses a second or two after getting hit. And people try all kinds of other things or they just get anxious about it and they donít do the right things.

The real key is to, first of all, call 9-1-1. Thatís the key call because the most life-saving thing is getting an AED to the chest of a kid.

Most Little League baseball diamonds do not have an AED present right at the baseball field. Some do, most donít.

Then, start CPR and keep CPR going, keep the circulation going, until the emergency medical vehicle gets there with an AED and thatís life saving.

Before AEDs, 95 percent of kids that had this condition would die. CPR alone does not save them. But while weíre doing CPR and when an AED comes and shocks the heart, the kidís heart will start back up again.

There are so many great stories of kids living a perfectly fine, productive life after their life was saved versus stories where a kid got hit in the chest, nobody knew what to do, everybody panicked and nobody called for an AED, and the kid died before their eyes.

This is the peak month in June. Baseball is the No. 1 sport. It rarely in lacrosse; rarely in other sports.

The most recent case we had, Ray, was a Cuyahoga Falls 13 year old a couple years ago. There also was a kid in Columbus two years ago. Itís devastating when it happens, so thanks for giving me the opportunity.

Letís talk about being aware, if this would happen in our community, to do the right things and save the life of a young athlete.

HORNER: And now in the sports industry, I see, Joe, for the first time all over the place are those light chest protectors that the kids can wear for infield and while theyíre batting. They donít seem to be too evasive, but Iím sure thatís a step in protection.

DR. CONGENI: It is a step in protection and, boy, hearing it from a guy in the trenches like you to see that the chest protectors are back, . Itís kind of been an on-again, off-again .

Thereís another one called a heart guard that sits right over the chest where the heart is and wonít allow this injury. And thereís some discussion about that being a primary prevention. Exactly right, Ray.

Secondary prevention, though, is call for that AED. Get that rhythm turned around, shock the heart and youíll save a life.

And I appreciate the opportunity as we head into this beautiful time of our year to talk about that and maybe save a life in northeast Ohio.

HORNER: Well, as you know, Iím heavily involved these days with Little League for sure with, uh, Rocco.

DR. CONGENI: You are.

HORNER: Thanks, Joe. Weíll see you in studio next week.

DR. CONGENI: Alright, next week in studio. Thanks, Ray. Have a good week.

HORNER: You too. Dr. Joe Congeni from Sports Medicine Center at Childrenís Hospital.

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