If you are a parent with children participating in sport, you may be one of many that are concerned with their child’s nutrition, their stress levels, or if they are getting enough sleep. You may be involved with which club sport they are playing with or hope to play for this season, or you are directly involved with selecting the best coaches for their development. Whenever possible, you are concerned with the quality and condition of their equipment, from the helmet down to the soles of their footwear. Needless to say, you are certainly a part of the discussion when it comes to choosing the best sports medicine physicians when an injury occurs.
Just wondering . . . in this myriad of concerns, have you ever asked “what surface is your child playing on”?
Recent research presented at the 2014 annual meeting of the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM) focused on game-related high school football injuries across artificial turf systems of various infill weights. Over 40 high schools during three competitive seasons were involved across Montana, Pennsylvania, Southern California, and Texas. The findings were very clear–as the artificial infill surface weight decreased, the incidence of game-related high school football trauma significantly increased across numerous playing conditions.
Simply, the various proprietary sand/rubber infill compositions applied during the construction of an artificial turf field are typically defined in pounds of infill per square foot of surface (p/sq.ft). Why is this important? Rather than playing on the polyethylene turf fibers, the athlete is actually playing in the infill surface, a very important variable often referred to as the shoe-to-playing surface interaction. This interaction is what often times determines optimal performance during a play as well as the potential for injury.
Findings of this study indicated that the heaviest weighted infill system, FieldTurf (> 9 p/sq.ft), easily outperformed the lighter weight infill fields in the following injury categories investigated:
- 16% lower incidence of concussion injuries combined on FieldTurf versus other brands with 3-5.9 p/sq.ft of infill weight
- A 13% lower incidence of total injuries on FieldTurf versus other brands with 3-5.9 p/sq.ft of infill weight
- A 13% lower incidence of severe injury on FieldTurf versus other brands with 3-5.9 p/sq.ft of infill weight
- A 18% lower incidence of player-to-turf injuries on FieldTurf versus other brands with 3-5.9 p/sq.ft of infill weight
- A 22% lower incidence of injury during adverse weather conditions on FieldTurf and other brands with 3-5.9 p/sq.ft of infill weight
- A 20% lower incidence of injury on FieldTurf fields (8+ years of age) versus other brands with 3-5.9 p/sq.ft of infill weight, as well as a 41% lower incidence of injury on FieldTurf versus other brands with 0-2.9 p/sq.ft of infill weight
- A 19% lower incidence of injury on FieldTurf fields (4 to 8+ years of age) versus other brands with 3-5.9 p/sq.ft of infill weigh
As you can see, when it comes to injury potential, not all artificial turf infill systems are the same. Protecting your child against common sport injuries is hard enough. So, the next time your school board is deciding on which playing surface to install, ask yourself….what would you want your child to play on?