Does your Lacrosse Gear Protect Your Entire Heart?

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Unequal and Leading Cardiologists Issue Warning on New Lacrosse Chest Protectors


As of Jan. 1, a new regulation adopted by the NCAA, NFHS, and USA Lacrosse requires all male players to wear chest protection that meets or exceeds the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) ND200 standard. However, many cardiologists caution that some of the popular NOCSAE-certified lacrosse goalie gear and shoulder pads do not protect the entire heart, exposing the left ventricle to impact that can result in Commotio cordis – a sudden cardiac injury that can lead to fatality.

“Unequal is the only chest protective gear to pass the new NOCSAE 200-21, a 2021 safety standard that addresses the vulnerability to cardiac injuries such as Commotio cordis,” states Rob Vito, CEO of Unequal. “Only Unequal includes a left rib pad because the heart is also vulnerable on the left side of the chest. To date, Unequal equipment is the world’s only protection to be tested by Tufts Medical Center, deemed NOCSAE-certified, and was granted a claim by the FDA.”

Most of the other lacrosse gear on the market passed the NOCSAE ND200-19, a 2019 standard that soon expires in January 2023. They put a large plastic hump in the center of the chest that: (i) may not protect the left ventricle from commotio cordis; (ii) is bulky and protrudes out of the chest; (iii) interferes with seeing the ball when players look down; (iv) rides up into their helmet; and (v) interferes with side-to-side motion. To correct this, some players are either simply removing this plastic contraption from the chest protector, or smashing it flat with a hammer.

Doctors warn the lacrosse shoulder pads and goalie gear must protect the players’ entire heart, from sternum over to at least the left nipple, where Peter Laake was struck. Several manufacturers positioned their NOCSAE-certified protection over the sternum but made it too narrow to fully protect the left ventricle. This lack of coverage could render their protection ineffective and make the player vulnerable to the lethal Commotio cordis.

Dr. Jeffrey Mandak, a Board-certified cardiologist, cautions:

“Developing chest protection effective against commotio cordis is very complex. A traumatic blow to essentially any site on the left ventricle can produce the fatal arrhythmia associated with commotio cordis. So they must position protective devices in the correct location.”

“The silhouette of the left ventricle can extend from the sternum to at least the left nipple line; chest protectors that do not properly cover this entire area may be ineffective in preventing injury to these exposed regions. Be aware of devices that are NOCSAE certified but have portions of the left ventricle unshielded. This deficiency can render the chest protector inadequate regarding commotio cordis protection and expose athletes to unnecessary danger.”

Only Unequal’s patented protection properly covers the heart over to the left nipple, as well as on the left side of the chest, as recommended by cardiologists. Unequal blocks, absorbs and disperses high levels of impact energy with its patented military-grade composite. It’s thin, lightweight, flexible, and made of DuPont™ Kevlar®, ImpacShield®, TriDur®, Accelleron®, and Airilon®. In a ‘Future of the NFL®, segment, a wooden bat was cracked across the chest of Unequal CEO Rob Vito to test Unequal’s protective properties. Only Unequal stands behind their products, literally, like no other. The New Orleans Saints chose Unequal to protect Drew Brees’ broken ribs and punctured lung in his last three games of the season.

Dr. Bryan C. Donohue, board certified cardiologist and renowned expert at the University of Pittsburgh Medical College (UPMC) Heart and Vascular Institute, states:

“Commotio Cordis, the #2 killer in sports, most commonly occurs from a ball impacting the left chest, resulting in sudden cardiac arrest that is usually fatal. I had the privilege of working with Tufts Medical Center on Unequal’s chest protection that was deemed effective chest protection for commotio cordis, tested by cardiologists, and granted a claim by the FDA.”

“The size, shape and position of the heart can vary. The heart is positioned centrally within the chest cavity that can extend to the left nipple, known as the cardiac silhouette. To properly protect the heart from commotio cordis, an effective chest protector will safeguard the player from the sternum to the left nipple, with proven certified protection.”

Unequal’s advanced patented proven protection is the reason top lacrosse players choose Unequal gear. Professionals such as Blaze Riorden, voted No. 1 player in the world, of the Philadelphia Wings and Chaos from the PLL (Premiere Lacrosse League), and Matt Deluca goalie for the PLL Waterdogs choose Unequal. Elite college programs such as Duke, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Harvard, Penn State, Virginia, Syracuse, and Stevenson all have players who choose to wear Unequal. Top High School players such as Peter Laake, who experienced an episode of Commotio cordis in 2021 and survived it choose Unequal. On the day Laake returned to the lacrosse field, he was struck in the left ventricle again, only this time he was wearing Unequal and was properly protected.

“Our present is the world’s future,” says Rob Vito, CEO of Unequal. “We bring ‘groundbreaking, breathtaking, and heart pounding’ innovations to market. Our tagline, ‘Unequal Protects’, isn’t just a slogan, but our core belief. Unequal is a company of firsts, with over 100 worldwide patents for products that defy limits, create reality, and thrill athletes.


For maximum performance, fitting instructions must be followed.
This equipment is designed to help reduce the risk of injury ONLY for the specific body area which it covers. This equipment does not guarantee that area will be protected from all injuries. Any modification of this item is forbidden.
No thoracic or chest protector can prevent all cardiac or other injury, catastrophic injury and death may occur to the wearer despite using this protector.
This chest protector can be damaged by contact with common substances (for example, certain solvents, cleaners, etc.). This damage may or may not be visible to the user.
DuPont™ and Kevlar® are trademarks or registered trademarks of E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company.

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