Expert recommends heart padding for NFL, youth football players

Could better chest padding have protected Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin from his catastrophic injury Monday evening? At least one sports medicine doctor is calling on the NFL to find out.

Dr. Chad Stephens, a Texas sports medicine doctor with two kids in youth football, is urging the league to consider the kind of chest protection that’s already mandated or recommended in many other sports. VIDEO

U.S. Lacrosse responded to the cardiac arrest of a Baltimore County high school player a year ago with a mandate that all players wear approved chest protection.

Loyola Blakefield standout Peter Laake nearly died when a ball hit him in his chest, pounding his heart at just the wrong moment iin ts beating cycle, and bringing on commotio cordis, or commotion of the heart.

“I got kind of like hit right in the lower chest area,” Laake said.

Many experts believe commotio cordis is what happened to Damar Hamlin.

In a video Laake did with the American Heart Association, he pulled away his jersey to show the long chest protector he wears now to avoid a repeat.

“I have the pad — it’s all Kevlar,” he said. “And then it also has the heart pad, which is the main thing for me.”

That kind of chest protection is recommended, and widely used, by MLB catchers and umpires.

While current NFL shoulder pads may offer a little protection for the upper chest, they don’t extend low enough to protect the heart.


WUSA9 CBS – Washington, DC
Bruce Leshan
January 4, 2023

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