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Swing & Hit in the Head

What better way to welcome in spring than with a baseball game. It’s American, right? Almost everyone has played or watched the game at some point in their life. In the past several years, the baseball season has also raised the debate over the risks of metal bats used at the youth, high school and college levels, many times at the wake of a serious injury on the baseball field. There is always controversy whether the use of metal bats poses a greater safety risk than wooden bats. Some believe because metal bats give more velocity and speed, pitchers have less reaction time when the ball is hit.

While some states like North Dakota and New York have banned aluminum bats for safety reasons, others have considered such laws, but have not yet implemented them. In light of a recent incident, California plans to introduce a three-year ban on non-wooden bats allowing time to review bat safety. Here are a few cases that have brought this issue to light over the past few years.

On March 11, Gunnar Sandberg, a 16-year-old Marin Catholic High School pitcher, was hit in the head by a line drive off a metal bat. There was so much pressure on the teen’s brain that doctors at Marin General Hospital had to remove a portion of his skull and place him in a medically-induced coma.

Brandon Patch, an 18-year-old American Legion pitcher, was killed in 2003 when he was hit in the head with a line. He went into convulsions on the mound and died a few hours later.

In 2006, Steve Domalewski (then 12) of Wayne, N.J. was drilled in the chest by a line drive that stopped his heart for several minutes. He suffered brain damage and remains severely disabled.
In 2005, Bill Kalant, a 16-year-old pitcher in Illinois, was in a coma for two weeks after a line drive hit him in the head. Kalant has since had to relearn basics, such as how to brush his teeth.

No one can be certain if the metal bats the hitters used were responsible for these injuries and deaths. The statistics on exactly what the risks are vary. In 2002, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission could not find enough data to determine that metal bats posed an unreasonable risk of injury. They found between 1991 and 2001, 17 people died from being hit by a batted ball and that included all types of bats, not just metal ones.

A group of researchers at Illinois State University came to the same conclusion in 2007 saying that “there was no statistically significant evidence that non-wood bats result in an increased evidence of severity of injury.” No bat will eliminate dangers from baseball, but there are things pitchers can do to reduce their chances of getting hit. It is important to always keep your eye on the ball. Getting hit in the head with a ball is one of the most serious injuries and fatalities playing baseball. Pitchers should be required to wear a helmet. They are at the same or greater risk of head injury than the batter. Face guards would be equally beneficial to reduce injuries to the eyes, nose, and mouth. A helmet can prevent long-term disabilities, even death.

Traumatic brain injuries may result from a sudden bump, blow, or jolt to the head. These injuries may range from a mild concussion to severe, life-threatening injuries. These injuries are preventable. Following safety tips, rules, and common sense will keep the fun in the game and avoid serious injuries or fatalities.

Litigation Funding Corp. is a company that provides strategic lawsuit funding to plaintiff involved in personal injury litigation. We provide legal finance to accident victims while they wait for their cases to wind their way through the long legal process. Strategically, we are trying to reduce their financial incentive to settle their valuable cases for pennies on the dollar due to financial difficulties caused by their injuries or disabilities. We believe that the best way to avoid personal injury lawsuits is to avoid personal injuries in the first instance. That is why we are advising all of our readers to put safety first! A helmet is only a slight barrier for your brain, but it can make all the difference in your future and that of your loved ones. As in any sport, always be aware. Observe what is going on around you at all times. Keep your head in the game.

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