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Equipment may not have been enough to save Garfield teen's life

NorthJersey.com—December 7, 2010

The tragedy that took the life of a young baseball catcher from Garfield on Friday may not have been preventable no matter what kind of protective gear he was wearing, doctors and sports equipment experts agreed Monday.
Thomas Adams, 16, collapsed and died Friday night when he was struck in the chest with a baseball in the gym at Blessed Sacrament School in Paterson. He was wearing an Easton chest protector, according to witnesses, while practicing with the Braves, a Professional Baseball Instruction League travel team.

The sophomore probably succumbed to commotio cordis, a sudden, usually fatal condition that occurs when a blow to the chest wall at a specific point between beats disrupts the electrical activity in the heart, medical experts said. The heart stops beating and instead just shakes and quivers.

"This is fairly typical — the blow stuns the heart and you feel like you can't breathe," said Jordan D. Metzl, a sports medicine physician with the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. "It's the wrong force at the wrong angle at the wrong time. It's such a tragedy because it strikes totally healthy athletes doing what they love."


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