Baseball bases that move on impact would prevent 1.7 million injuries, saving $2 billion in medical costs if used nationwide, a study has found.
The nonprofit Institute for Preventive Sports Medicine said the skyrocketing growth of recreational sports has made amateur athletes’ safety a major public health goal.
“Recreational sports injuries are expensive to families, employers and the entire community,” said Dr. David Janda, director of the Ann Arbor institute.
So-called breakaway bases, attached to rubber grommets set in the ground, release on impact, unlike conventional bases. A three-year study showed they virtually eliminated the ankle, knee, leg, hand and wrist injuries caused when softball players slide into bases anchored to the ground, the institute said.
Researchers initially compared injuries on fields at the University of Michigan, some of which had stationary bases and some equipped with breakaway bases, the health care organization said.
In more than 1,200 games, 45 players were injured sliding into stationary bases but only two were hurt sliding into breakaway bases, Janda said.
The second phase of the study covered 1,035 games on fields using only breakaway bases. Only two sliding-related injuries--each an ankle sprain--were reported, Janda said.
“Many communities and leagues, including minor-league baseball teams, have begun to use breakaway bases and have reduced sliding injuries without affecting the outcome of the game,” Janda said.
The Detroit Tigers’ London, Ontario, affiliate in the Double-A Eastern League uses breakaway bases, and institute spokesman Gorden Blain said the entire league might use them in 1991.