Injuries on the sports field are common because of the physical contact between players. These fields include football, soccer, baseball, wrestling, boxing, martial arts, and any other sports that involve physical contact. One might even go as far to say that simple horseplay, such as, siblings playing with each other by punching each other in the chest, back, arms, or even the head is also considered to be physical contact. This is rough sports, and for the most part, as a youngster, it is fun. However, there is a hidden agenda that most people are not aware of, and it can be lethal. This agenda is known as commotio cordis. As of to date, over 200 cases have been reported in the United States alone.
Commotio cordis is a blunt impact to the anterior or lateral wall of the chest. The impact can come from a simple punch, or a football, soccer ball, or any kind of ball that impacts the chest, at the precise moment that the hearts normal electrical impulse changes. It typically interrupts the normal flow of electrical impulses to the heart. Therefore, a normal heart rhythm changes to a lethal rhythm that is referred to as ventricular fibrillation, or even ventricular tachycardia. At this point the flow of blood sojourns and the pulse will disappear. Once this happens; the breathing stops. The victim is now in cardiac arrest.
Typically, a small child, teenager, or even adult will be playing on the sports field, and after an impact with other players, they fall to the ground. The coaches and training staff will run out on the field to assist them, and find that he or she is in cardiac arrests. They make an assumption that this may have been a congenital issue or something that was missed by the medical staff, where they believe there was a heart issue. The staff will start CPR and call 911 to acquire advanced life support. Paramedics will arrive and perform their treatment modality, and hopefully restart this young person’s heart.
On another occasion, the lunch time bell rings at a school, and the children run outside to have their lunch. Some play by wrestling with each other, or punching each other, which is typically what kids do. Once the lunch time is over, the children return to the classroom and sit at their desk. One girl, 15 years old lays her head down on her desk as her teacher believes that she is asleep. When the teacher yells at her to raise her head up and pay attention, she does not. The teacher walks over to her desk and shakes the child’s shoulders but gets no response. The teacher investigates further to find that she is not breathing, nor does she have a pulse. The teacher screams to the other student to run and get the principal and the nurse, as the teacher continues to try to wake her up.
What happened to this young lady? Well, looking at the history of what she did during lunch, by playing with other children, quite possibly she may have suffered a blow to her chest. She came back to class groggy and the teacher noticed but had no idea what’s wrong with her. She walks back to her classroom and the full effects of commotio cordis takes effect. She goes into cardiac arrest. When this occurs to her, or any other person who suffered a blow to the chest, at the precise moment the electrical impulse is following a certain direction, she is in a legal rhythm.
When advanced life support arrives, the paramedics will immediately use their defibrillator to counter shock this lethal rhythm. If caught early, research has discovered that a reversal to a normal rhythm, most likely will occur. However, some educational institutions across this country or not up to date on what emergency equipment are needed on the premises. It is discussed in legislation that automatic defibrillators should be placed in all educational facilities. They are at most airports, major sports locations, some universities, and some are at train stations. However, the chances are that no one knows how to use them.
Semi-automatic defibrillators should be placed everywhere there are adults, and everywhere there are children. These places should include childcare facilities, restaurants, sports fields, elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, movie theaters, private homes; basically everywhere. The reason is paramount! All it takes is a simple dose of electricity to counter shock these lethal rhythms. It also takes a simple class that is perhaps four hours at the minimum to learn how to use it, and even more, to learn about other presenting factors that can take a life.
It is unfortunate that defibrillators are not everywhere. Why does it take a life that is lost to make people understand that a simple procedure is (for the most part) all it takes? The reason is people who are in charge, including principals, teachers, parents and CEO’s refuse to hear from people who want to go into their office or homes to talk about it. It’s about time to listen and take action.
Commotio cordis has been around for a very long time. Medical professionals didn’t realize what exactly the reason was that these youngsters were dropping dead on the sports field, or even in the classroom. Defibrillators can be purchased cheap and for a discounted price. A CPR lesson taught by a CPR instructor is not expensive when talking about saving a life. All it takes is just a little time to sit and listen. The time that you give will make a difference in someone else’s life.
Every high school student in the country should be required to take a heartsaver CPR course before graduation. This will undoubtedly increase the save rate of the entire country of people who suffers from acute cardiac arrests; whether from natural causes, or from commotio cordis. Wake up Congress! Wake up Mr. President! Make it happen..