Catcher chest protectors are protective pads worn by sportspersons such as baseball catchers and sports umpires to protect their torso from injuries. Professional and semi-professional baseball catchers habitually wear chest protectors. However, the protective gear can also be used by softball, cricket and hockey players to protect themselves from the impact of a ball. Apart from shielding a player from the physical injuries related to ball impact, the catcher chest protectors are aimed at protecting sportspersons from a rare and sudden heart condition known as commotio cordis. Commotio cordis, also sometimes designated as a cardiac concussion is a type of ventricular fibrillation, and is the second leading cause of cardiovascular death for children and adolescents who play sports. Commotio Cordis is seen mostly in athletes between the ages of 8 and 18 who are partaking in sports with projectiles such as baseballs, lacrosse balls or hockey pucks. The risks decrease as athlete’s age and their rib cage and surrounding muscles get stronger and tougher. According to the U.S. Commotio Cordis Registry, since 1995, approximately 188 athletes have died from blunt force injury to the heart (commotio cordis). Thus, catcher chest protectors are a vital and crucial accessory to protect young players from sudden death due to a cardiac concussion.
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The protection offered by the gear gains more importance due to the fact that the survival of a player who has been impacted with the ball during a match, and who has suffered cardiac concussion, depends on the quick use of automatic external defibrillators, which are not kept near playing field by every athletic league or school. Several studies and reports suggest that presently available catcher chest protectors are not very efficient in protecting young players from the risk of cardiac concussion. For instance, one 2013 study that reviewed 216 U.S. cases of commotio cordis found that, of the 115 incidents related to competitive sports, 37% occurred while the victim wore a chest protector. Thus, due to the large unmet medical need in the market, there is a lucrative opportunity for new entrants to enter the market with innovative, and efficacious catcher chest protectors.
A recent spur of developments in this arena depicts the fact that the market is set to grow positive strides during the forecast period from 2016 to 2024. Sports endorsements and presence of a high unmet need are set to drive the market during the period above. In January 2016, the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment proposed the world’s first performance standard for chest protectors that aim to reduce the risk of commotio cordis. Moreover, in September 2016, Unequal Technologies introduced the world’s only athletic catcher chest protector known as the HART chest protector that has been shown in laboratory tests to be effective in reducing the risk of commotio cordis. Furthermore, a medical study published in The Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine revealed that these HART protectors are up to 95% effective in preventing the onset of a cardiac concussion.
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Based on geography, the catcher chest protectors market has been segmented into the following regions: North America, Europe, Latin America, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Middle East and Africa. North America is anticipated to lead the market during the forecast period, owing to greater awareness regarding the precautions to be undertaken during sports, and greater initiatives were taken by companies and the government in the U.S.to promote the development of safe catcher chest protectors. In the mid-1990s, the National Commotio Cordis Registry was established in the United States as a means of collecting data systematically on cases of commotio cordis. Approximately 10 to 20 cases of cardiac concussion occur in the U.S. every year, predominantly in boys 14 and younger who are struck in the left chest by a ball or puck while playing baseball, hockey or lacrosse. The Minnesota Registry has identified 229 domestic cases between 1980 and 2015, including 162 deaths.
The major players operating in the catcher chest protectors market include Unequal Technologies Company, All-Star Sporting Goods, EvoShield LLC., Rawlings Sporting Goods, Wilson Sporting Goods, Easton Sports, and Mizuno Corporation.