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USL Debuts PSA to Promote AEDs for Commotio Cordis

BALTIMORE – Over Memorial Day weekend, US Lacrosse will launch a national public service announcement designed to educate the lacrosse community about the value of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs), the rare condition known as commotio cordis, and the importance of developing an emergency medical plan to react to player injury. The Baltimore-based national governing body's 30-second PSA will run on CBS College Sports during its NCAA men's and women's lacrosse championship broadcasts (see local listings for times).

Commotio cordis is a very rare but potentially catastrophic phenomenon that can result in cardiac arrest. It can occur when a blunt, but often relatively mild blow to the area of the chest directly over the heart occurs during a precise moment of the heart's cycle, leading to sudden cardiac arrest. Documented cases have occurred in more than a dozen sports and activities including hockey, baseball, martial arts and lacrosse.

The National Commotio Cordis Registry located within the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation reports 188 deaths attributed to commotio cordis from 1996 through the spring of 2007. Approximately 48 percent of commotio cordis deaths occurred during organized sports, and 39 percent of these fatalities occurred despite the wearing of some form of chest protection. Of the 188 fatalities, 96 percent were male. Research indicates that no current chest protection in any sport will prevent commotio cordis, although US Lacrosse is supporting research that may lead to the development of more effective chest protection.

Though less than five percent of the documented commotio cordis cases have been lacrosse players, US Lacrosse has taken the lead on educating the sports community about the phenomenon. The PSA encourages teams and programs to have quick and easy access to an AED and promotes the value of CPR training for coaches.

Last year, US Lacrosse established a strategic alliance with Cardiac Science, a leading manufacturer of AEDs, to provide additional educational resources, as well as special AED pricing, to the national lacrosse community. Information for this program can be found at www.uslacrosse.org/safety/aed.phtml.

Published studies have proven that early defibrillation, within the first few minutes of sudden cardiac arrest, can save up to 74 percent of victims. According to the American Heart Association, each minute of delay in delivering a defibrillation shock to a cardiac arrest victim reduces the chances of survival by 10 percent.

On February 24, 2008, goalie James Hendrick went into cardiac arrest after he was hit by a shot during a high school lacrosse game in Jacksonville, Fla., and he collapsed on the field. His coach, Josh Covelli, ran over to Hendrick, immediately started CPR and called for the school's AED. The combination of timely CPR and AED application ultimately saved Hendrick's life. Hendrick and Covelli are featured in the US Lacrosse PSA.

"While commotio cordis is extremely rare and occurs more frequently in other sports, we felt that it was important to shed light on the phenomenon and educate the entire lacrosse community that CPR and AEDs are vital to surviving sudden cardiac arrest," said the president and CEO of US Lacrosse, Steve Stenersen. "James and Josh have given us a wonderful example of how quick action, CPR and AED availability are essential to a positive outcome."

"We are thankful that our school had an AED on the premises and nearby," said Coach Covelli. "Without it, I'm not sure if we could have saved James. All schools and sports programs should have an AED available on the sideline right along with the med kit."

US Lacrosse recommends that, along with CPR and AED training, the following steps should be taken in order to best prepare for the possibility of a commotio cordis incident:

1. Establish an emergency action plan, including the training of all coaches and team personnel in CPR with AED.

2. Provide quick and easy access to an AED.

3. Educate all team personnel to recognize the mechanisms of commotio cordis.

4. Educate all team personnel in the need for IMMEDIATE CPR if commotio cordis is suspected, because the longer the delay in beginning CPR and AED treatment, the greater the likelihood of loss of life.

5. Understand that chest protection, although useful in preventing traumatic injury, will not eliminate the threat of commotio cordis.

6. Require all protective athletic equipment to meet all appropriate safety standards, if they exist. NOCSAE, ASTM, HECC, PECC are such appropriate bodies.

The US Lacrosse PSA spot can be viewed at www.uslacrosse.org.




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