Study Shows Artificial Turf Composition Influences Injury Prevention
By Deborah L. Vence
It turns out that the composition of artificial turf surfaces is the key to preventing high school football injuries.
This, according to new research that shows how the infill weight of artificial turf surfaces can directly affect the number of injuries to high school football players, according to a recent news release from the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM), an organization that specializes in orthopaedic sports medicine education, research, communication and fellowship.
The study—presented at the AOSSM’s annual meeting in Colorado Springs, Colo.—was led by Michael Clinton Meyers, Ph.D., from Idaho State University in Pocatello, Idaho, and was awarded the AOSSM’s first-annual STOP Sports Injuries award. (STOP stands for Sports Trauma and Overuse Prevention.) The award recognizes top research leading toward significant awareness and changes in the prevention of traumatic and overuse injuries in youth sports.
Moreover, the study is the first one to directly compare football injuries as they relate to infill weight.
“Our research showed that as the artificial infill surface weight decreased, the incidence of game-related high school football trauma significantly increased,” Meyers stated in the press release. “This trend was consistent across numerous changes in playing conditions as well.”
A total of 52 high schools across four states participated in the study. Injuries were evaluated over five competitive seasons (2010-14). Infill systems consisted of sand and/or rubber, and were divided into four categories based on pounds per square foot. The injury totals were significantly lower when infill rates were at a level greater than 9 pounds per square foot.
“Based on our findings, we would recommend that high school football fields contain a minimum of 6.0 pounds per square foot of infill weight to optimize player safety on artificial surfaces,” Meyers stated. “With the amount of athletes playing football, and the setbacks associated with injuries, we hope this research will help decrease these numbers and make football safer for young athletes.”
Researchers also noted that the conclusions warrant further investigation, and cannot be generalized to other levels of competition beyond those included in the study.
The AOSSM works closely with many other sports medicine specialists, including athletic trainers, physical therapists, family physicians, and others to improve the identification, prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of sports injuries. AOSSM also is a founding partner of the STOP Sports Injuries campaign to prevent overuse and traumatic injuries in kids.