New standards to improve Little League baseball helmets

Rawlings is launching the "Know Your Speed" safety campaign

By Rachel McNeill - Anchor

HOUSTON - Keeping your children safe on the baseball field is about to get easier thanks to new standards for helmets.

Equipment company Rawlings is rolling out an improved helmet rating system designed to better protect players from head injuries.

Since the 80s, batter's helmets were required to withstand hits from 68 miles per hour balls. But Rawlings is upping those standards.

Experts say some young boys can pitch up to 50 miles per hour. That's a lot of force on the developing brain.

Rawlings is launching a new campaign called "Know Your Speed" to help families choose the right helmet protection for their child.

Last week, Toronto Blue Jays pitcher JA Happ suffered a blow to the head.

Professionals aren't the only ones at risk.

According to the CDC, more than 9,000 children end up in the emergency room with concussions or brain injuries from being hit by a baseball.

Neuropsychologist Kenneth Podell with The Methodist Concussion Center explained how these hits differ from head to head hits in football.

"In baseball when you get hit by a ball, it's more of a focal injury that we're worried about, and that's exactly what the intent of these helmets is to absorb the impact at a certain speed, to prevent that energy from going through the skull and into the brain," said Podell.

The new Rawlings performance rating system upgrades the helmet standard.

The new helmets are designed to absorb a 70 miles per hour jolt for younger players, 80 mph for kids ages 12 to 16 and 90 mph for high school and college. For the pro's, their helmets can withstand balls at 100 miles per hour.

"What moms need to know at home is what level of velocity or pitch speed are their sons or daughters experiencing," Rawlings Senior Vice President Art Chou said.

Parents should also be aware of the signs of concussion: headache, confusion, dizziness, loss of balance, sensitivity to light or sound.

If your child takes a hit, remove them from play immediately and seek medical attention.

"Typically the best thing you can do is rest," said Podell. "One of the things you don't want to do in the initial 48 hours is give them any type of pain relief that may thin out the blood. So aspirin is an absolute no. Nothing like ibuprofen; we tend to hold off on as well."

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