Baseball and the Brain: Concussion Safety
Read the concussion stories of these current and former professional baseball players.
Although baseball is typically considered a non-contact sport, there have been sporadic incidents of concussion or other head injuries reported in baseball players. This is why parents, athletes, and coaches must remember that concussions can be a problem even in sports where they occur less frequently.
“Because of foul tips, catchers, and actually umpires, are the most at risk for concussions on the baseball diamond,” says Micky Collins, PhD, clinical and executive director at the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program. “In our clinic, approximately 60 percent of our baseball concussion patients are catchers.”
Concussions may also occur in baseball when athletes:
- Collide with teammates or opponent
- Run into fences, walls, or backstops
- Are hit by a ball or bat
“It’s those typical dings that might not seem like significant hits that can be problematic,” says Dr. Collins. “Catchers often report subtle dizziness or fogginess. They may experience a dip in batting performance because they’re having trouble seeing the ball. These can all be concussion symptoms.”
Other signs to look for in a potentially concussed athlete include:
- Severe headache
- Blurred vision
- Sensitivity to light or noise
- Nausea or vomiting
- Changes in mood
If a coach or parent suspects an athlete has suffered a concussion, remove him from play immediately. Only a medical professional trained in concussion can clear the athlete for return.
During this baseball season, athletes can reduce their risk for concussion by following these tips:
- Avoid collisions at home plate
- Wear properly fitted equipment like a catcher’s mask and batting helmet
- Stay alert while on the bases
- Practice protecting yourself from line drives, especially pitchers
“Once an injury occurs the brain is in an extremely vulnerable state and more susceptible to additional injury,” says Dr. Collins. “If you suspect a concussion, it’s best to sit it out and seek help from your coach or athletic trainer.”
To learn more about our patients, read their stories.