Newswise – Despite improvements in the baseball mitts used by professional baseball players, the gloves still do not adequately protect players’ hands from injury, according to a new study. Dr. Adam Ginn says, “We found signs of early blood vessel damage that could lead to significant symptoms and could end a player’s career. The gloves’ current design does not protect the hand from trauma.”
The study examined 36 players on four minor league baseball teams in North Carolina. It included nine catchers, seven infielders, five outfielders and 15 pitchers. “Professional baseball players may be exposed to more repetitive hand trauma than any other sport,” says Dr. L. Andrew Koman. “We found a greater incidence of hand symptoms in catchers than in other players, despite the fact that 89% of them used additional protective padding.”
Catchers may receive 150 pitches per game at speeds up 90 m.p.h. or more. The repetitive impact of the ball hitting the gloved hand has been shown to lead to damage to blood vessels. Over time, blood flow can be significantly reduced and nerves may be bruised, causing numbness and tingling, reduced sensitivity to cold and bluish-colored skin. Ginn says, “There should be further study into glove design.”
The researchers used ultrasound to look at blood circulation in the hands. The testing revealed abnormalities in blood flow to the hand wearing the catcher?s mitt, as opposed to the other hand of players. They also looked for enlarged fingers, which are a sign of injury, and asked players about hand symptoms.
The problem with the current design is that most pitches are caught at the base of the webbing, at the bottom of the index finger, where many vessels and nerves are located. Pitchers and field players have fewer hand injuries than catchers because they tend to catch the ball in the webbing itself, away from the hand.
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