An Analysis of Catcher's Mask Performance to Attenuate Head Accelerations
Shain, Kellen Saul
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The goals of this study were to measure the ability of catcherâ s masks to attenuate head accelerations upon impact with a baseball, and to compare these head accelerations to established injury thresholds for concussions. Testing involved using a pneumatic cannon to shoot baseballs at an instrumented (3-2-2-2 accelerometer array) Hybrid III headform (a 50th percentile male head and neck) with and without a catcherâ s mask on the head. The ball speed was controlled from approximately 26.8 â 35.8 m/s (60 â 80 mph) and regulation NCAA baseballs were used. Peak linear resultant acceleration was 140 â 180 g without a mask and 16 â 30 g with a mask over the range of balls speeds investigated. Peak angular resultant acceleration was 19500 â 25700 rad/sec2 without a mask and 2250 â 3230 rad/sec2 with a mask. The Head Injury Criterion was 93 â 181 without a mask and 3 â 13 with a mask and the Severity index was 110 â 210 without a mask and 3 â 15 with a mask. Catcherâ s masks reduced head acceleration metrics by approximately 85% when baseballs were impacted with just the headform. Head accelerations with a catcherâ s mask were substantially lower than contemporary injury thresholds, yet evidence indicates that baseball impacts to the mask still result in concussions.
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