Monthly Archives: April 2009

We need better batting helmets

Such a sad story.  A young man gets hit in the head by a pitch and dies.  Apparently he turned to escape a wild pitch and it hit him just below the helmet, killing him. This may sound like a freak accident but the fact is that baseball helmets are not constructed to protect a person when they turn (as is the reflex) to avoid a pitch headed for their head. A simple flap attachment to the back of a helmet (similar to the throat protector on a catcher mask) could stop this from happening in most cases.

I played baseball from the time I could walk until my knees became so bad (from football) that I could no longer bend to catch (I was a catcher). I cannot tell you how many times I have seen players get hit in the head with pitches. If you’re lucky, the ball hits your helmet as you turn but all too often it hits just below the helmet, hitting a relatively softer spot very near the brainstem/spinal cord junction where many respiratory control centers are located (among other things). While I never witnessed anyone severely injured by this, I did see several concussions and had one myself that landed me in the hospital for a day.

If Barry Bonds and other players can get away with wearing protective equipment for their lead elbows as they crowd the plate there is no excuse for not adding to the protection offered by helmets through the addition of an extra unit that would protect the base of the skull from wild pitches. Well, forget Barry Bonds, there is no excuse period. I feel terrible for this kid and his friends and family (and the pitcher). This is a tragedy that could have been avoided.

Rescued from deep inside a thread at Drugmonkey

In DM’s thread on a Nature article concerning the bombing of a UCLA researcher whimple asks to hear from pain researchers:

Good idea, let’s throw out pain research based on animal models altogether.

Yes, this is a possibility that some people are willing to consider, the sarcastic tone of the statement notwithstanding. The best refutation would be evidence that pain research based on animal models has directly resulted in improvements in pain management in animals (including humans as animals).

How about it pain researchers? Can you compile a quickie list of such instances? Even stipulating that the ends can be used to justify the means, if causing pain to animals is “bad”, then this research is going to need to demonstrate that it is “worth it”. There’s a lot of arguing over how bad the badness is, but not a lot arguing over how good the goodness is. In the absence of a list of pain research successes, a cynic might suppose this is because there in fact isn’t any good that has resulted from this research.

To which I responded:
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