OBJECTIVE: To understand catchers' preferences for mask type and perceptions regarding safety, comfort, and fit, and determine whether mask type is correlated with self-reported concussion and related symptoms after impacts from foul tips or backswings. DESIGN: Cross-sectional study. SETTING: Survey of active baseball catchers. PARTICIPANTS: Professional baseball catchers. INTERVENTION: From May 1, 2015, to June 30, 2015, an online survey was administered in English and Spanish to all Major and Minor League catchers (n = 836). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Survey items addressed the type of mask routinely and previously used (conventional or hockey style); brand and material (steel or titanium); perceptions regarding safety, comfort, and fit; and experiences with concussions. RESULTS: The sample consisted of 596 catchers of which 26% reported being diagnosed with a concussion. Some concussions occurred from non-baseball activities, such as car accidents or off the field incidents. For those that occurred playing baseball, 35% resulted from a foul tip. Once catchers entered professional baseball, the use of a conventional mask rose significantly: 71% of catchers reported wearing conventional-style masks, and 30% hockey-style masks at the time the survey was conducted (P < 0.05). Both conventional and hockey-style mask wearers significantly selected hockey-style masks as providing better overall safety and protection than conventional masks (P < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: This research supports foul tips as an important cause of concussion in catchers and provides important information about preferences among catchers for masks that are not perceived as the safest and strongest. Future research should supplement these data by conducting laboratory testing to determine which masks are stronger and by collecting qualitative data to explore why some players are more likely to wear a mask type that they perceive as offering less safety or protection.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
- Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation