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Does the Use of Artificial Turf Contribute to Head Injuries?

Naunheim, Rosanne MD; McGurren, Michael MD; Standeven, John PhD; Fucetola, Robert PhD; Lauryssen, Carl MD; Deibert, Ellen MD

The Journal of Trauma: Injury, Infection, and Critical Care: October 2002 - Volume 53 - Issue 4 - p 691-694
Original Articles

Background  A number of high-profile professional football players have suffered career-ending concussions. The purpose of this article is to test the surfaces used by a professional team to determine their impact-attenuating properties.

Methods  An accelerometer was dropped from a height of 48 inches onto three different playing fields in the St. Louis area: an indoor artificial turf practice field, a grass outdoor practice field, and the artificial turf field at a domed stadium. The accelerometer was dropped 20 times from a height of 48 inches onto each surface.

Results  Statistical analysis of the peak Gs for impacts onto each surface indicate all three are statistically different. The artificial surface of the domed stadium was the hardest surface, with an average peak acceleration of 261 Gs compared with 183 Gs for the indoor artificial turf practice field and 246 Gs for the outdoor grass field.

Conclusion  The surface used to play league games has the least impact attenuation of any field tested and may contribute to the high incidence of concussion in football players.

From the Department of Emergency Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri.

Submitted for publication November 1, 2001.

Accepted for publication May 21, 2002.

Address for reprints: Rosanne Naunheim, MD, Department of Emergency Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110; email: naunheir@msnotes.wustl.edu.

© 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.