Umpires are at risk for concussions

Concussions are most commonly known in athletic games and events of contact sports but others involved in sports may also be at a high risk for head injuries.

A high school baseball or softball pitcher throws a pitch between 60 and 80 miles per hour. The batter and catcher are the only people between that fast ball and the umpire who is in direct eye sight of the ball.

A wild pitch or tipped ball changes the direction of the ball and can easily hit someone on the field. Face masks along with other protective gear are required for all umpires to help avoid serious injury.

Michelle Hansard, Director of Sports Medicine Outreach at K.O.C. explains that while guards and masks are essential, they are not a guarantee for protection.

“It’s there for protection of being hit with an object,” Hansard says, “but nothing is 100% preventable with a concussion. Lots of concussions happen in football regardless of the face they have helmets so no amount of protective equipment can 100% fully prevent a concussion.”

Proper fitting equipment is necessary and if a face mask has been dropped, dented or damaged, it must be replaced.

Aaron Browning, Deputy Director of Knoxville Parks and Rec says no matter the age or experience, each umpire is assessed at the beginning of the season with a check of equipment and uniform.

“We also have field supervisors at all the locations,” Browning says, “so they would be looking at what kind of mask the kid bring or what kind of did the person bring to work in before they ever get on the field.”

Long time umpire, Gene Mynatt has experienced many games where a foul ball or tipped ball hit him. He says technology has progressed and it covers much more now days.

“We’re required a complete face coverage,” Mynatt says, “and now have a flap that comes down over your throat or the metal itself comes down over your throat.”

Signs and symptoms of a concussion include dizziness, vomiting, unsteady walking, memory loss, fatigue, disorientation and others.

“Any blow to the head whether it be with an object or head to ground or head to head,” Hansard says, “or head to knee or even a really strong and dramatic whip lash effect could result in a serious concussion.”

No matter the age, if a person experiences symptoms of a concussion, they are encouraged to see a physician immediately.

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