[No. 81] ColumbusOhio: Sports medicine doctor expresses concern, caution over artificial turf. May 2013.
[No. 80] Zambian doctor dissects health issues relating to artificial turf. May 2013.
[No. 79] Hong Kong: Excerpts say ‘keep off artificial turf.’ April 2013.
[No. 78] Not for the squeamish! February 2013.
[No. 77] Another gem from sfparks on You Tube. December 2012.
[No. 76] Dr. Neal ElAttrache on CBS speaking about artificial turf injuries. November 2012.
[No. 75] College Park, Maryland: Another season-ending ACL-injury, artificial turf is suspected. November 2012.
[No. 74] Dr. Susan Buchanan of the University of Illinois at Chicago is concerned about lack of definitive data showing turf fields to be harmless. October 2010.
[No. 73] Buffalo, New York: Blogger suspects artificial turf as source of early-season football injuries. October 2012.
[No. 72] Canadian professional football team looks at turf as a reason for epidemic knee injuries. October 2012.
[No. 71] New study says leg injuries significantly higher on artificial turf than grass. September 2012.
[No. 70] Foxborough, Mass.: Patriots pad the artificial turf in the practice facility. July 2012.
[No. 69] Stanford Study says football knee injuries more likely on artificial turf. May 2012.
[No. 68] Wayland, Mass.: Wellhead Protection Website. February 2012.
[No. 67] Concern in Australia over carcinogens in artificial turf and soft-fall rubber surfaces. February 2012.
[No. 66] Canberra, Australia: Coach says it is crazy for women soccer players to play on artificial turf. January 2012.
[No. 65] A soon-to-be released 10-year study of injuries throughout the NFL will back the Rooneys’ disdain of artificial turf as unsafe. November 2011.
[No. 64] Laguna Beach, California: High School takes steps to minimize risk of injury to players. September 2011.
[No. 63] Novato, California: Heat exhaustion takes toll on football teams. September 2011.
[No. 62] West Milford, New Jersey: Concession stand is closed pending water testing due to nearby artificial turf field. May 2011.
[No. 61] Laguna Beach, California: Football mom calls out town officials for negligence and indifference. May 2011.
[No. 60] Injuries on Artificial Turf Fields. April 2011.
[No. 59] Chicago, Illinois: Experts tackle the safety of artificial turf fields. April 2011.
No. 58 San Diego, Calif.: Punt returner busts tibia and fibula when cutting back on artificial turf. April 2011.
No. 57 Calcutta, India: Rugby Union opposes artificial turf field for National Games in February. December 2010.
No. 56 What’s your artificial turf field’s G-Max? November 2010.
No. 55 Salt Lake City, Utah: Artificial playing surfaces may add to greater injury in an extended season. October 2010.
No. 54 UCLA’s football players dogged by artificial turf. August 2010.
No 53 MLB: Turf injury reported for Mets’ Reyes. July 2010.
No. 52 Giants players weary about artificial turf at Meadowlands. June 2010.
No. 51 Rays’ outfielder is ordered off the artificial turf. June 2010.
No. 50 Turf Toe – A Primer. June 2010.
No. 49 Eagles safety Marlin Jackson injured on artificial turf. June 2010.
No. 48 The curse of artificial turf visits A Rod’s groin. June 2010.
No. 47 Toronto, Canada: Turf field at Rogers Center claims Italian soccer star. May 2010.
No. 46 Earthquake’s midfielder bothered by back-to-back play on turf, gets rest time. May 2010.
No. 45 Per-team injury rates in the National Football League are 27% higher for games played on artificial turf surface. May 2010
No. 44 UCLA cornerback Sermons breaks leg; turf may have been the culprit. April 2010
No. 43 American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: “Artificial Turf Injuries Still More Likely in NFL.” March 2010
No. 42 Wayland, Mass.: More injuries on artificial turf. March 2010
No. 41 NFL Injury and Safety Panel: “Injuries are more common on artificial turf.” March 2010
No. 40 More on concussions: The turf factor. February 2010
No. 39 Rugby coach: “artificial turf beats the hell out of you.” February 2010.
No. 38 Hospital for Special Surgery: Cleat/artificial turf combination most likely to result in ACL injury. January 2010.
No. 37 Another NFL career in limbo, turf takes another toll. January 2010.
No. 36 Yes, turf can be an injury-causing hard surface, leading to head injury. January 2010.
No. 35 Want to save your sports career? Get off the artificial turf. January 2010.
No. 34 KPHO (CBS): Athletes & Experts say turf can lead to real pain. January 2010.
No. 33 Turf-boarding, a new form of torture!December 2009.
No. 32 Fractured skull, concussion, turf toe and broken foot – on artificial turf. December 2009.
No. 31 Hospital for Special Surgery Study: Artificial turf surface produces most strain in ACL. October 2009.
No. 30 Seahawks WR back after ACL injury on artificial turf. September 2009.
No. 29 Honolulu, Hawaii: An epidemic of cuts and scrapes from the artificial turf field at UH. September 2009.
No. 28 MSU Study: Infill and fiber spacing in artificial turf fields are factors in lower extremity injuries. August 2009.
No. 27 Red Sox rest up Lowell in advance of play on turf. May 2009.
No. 26 Ouch: Those pesky crumb rubber bits that injure! March 2009.
No. 25 Chronic traumatic encephalopathy in football players: Is there a connection to playing on artificial turf? Feb 2009.
No. 24 Survey: NFL players prefer natural grass. February 2009.
No. 23 The “sticky turf” syndrome can cause severe ankle injury. January 2009.
No. 22 Ben Roethlisberger credits natural grass for staving off injury. January 2009.
No. 21 Turf is the culprit in NFL pro Mark Jones’s injury. December 2008.
No. 20 Washington, D.C.: Kehoe Field’s turf poses danger to student athletes. October 2008.
No. 19 A primer on turf toe. October 2008.
No. 18 Poughkeepsie, NY: Injuries are common on artificial turf.August 2008.
No. 17 Illinois sports medicine physician explains down side of playing on turf. August 2008.
No. 16 Bill Littlefield, Getting Played: The risks to children – particularly girls – in increasing competitive sports.
No. 15 Jamaican women's u-17 soccer team doctor says turf increases injuries (July 2008).
No. 14 Connection between turf and concussions (July 2008).
No. 13 Orthopedic/sports medicine surgeon says athletes get hurt on turf as often as on grass (June 2008).
No. 12 Synthetic Turf: A Question of Ingestion (a video clip) (June 2008).
No. 11 Protecting users and public with help of informational signs at turf fields (June 2008).
No. 10 South African soccer legend cautions about artificial turf (June 2008).
No. 09 Argonauts' running back injured by turf (June 2008).
No. 08 Footwear technology to reduce injury from turf (May 2008).
No. 07 Is turf especially cruel to female athletes? (April 2008).
No. 06 MLS urged to encourgae natural grass fields. March 2008
No. 01 Editor's Note.
No. 02 Synthetic turf playing fields present unique dangers.
Staph infection at Winchester High School.
No. 04 Field of nightmares.
No. 05 San Francisco Parks Poised To Infect. February 2008. A Pictorial
[No. 81] ColumbusOhio: Sports medicine doctor expresses concern, caution over artificial turf. In a news report inThe Columbus Dispatch (28 April 2013) a number of experts expressed caution and concern over playing on artificial turf fields. Whether artificial turf is safer than natural grass, Dr. James MacDonald, a sports-medicine physician at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, said “‘The data are truly mixed. It’s not like the door is shut. This is still a debatable proposition.’” A study “in 2012 found that college football players had a 40 percent higher risk of tearing a certain knee ligament on fake turf between 2004 and 2008. Other studies have concluded that risks on the two types of turf are comparable.” Players have told MacDonald “how ‘sticky’ the surface feels. “The grip is so strong, they will plant, and the knee will buckle. That would give me pause with moving forward as a school to replace grass with turf.” When it comes to replacing a grass field with artificial turf, MacDonald “would suggest holding off, at least until the data are more conclusive.” Source: Collin Binkley, “Safety of artificial turf for high-school athletes still argued,” The Columbus Dispatch, 28 April 2013, athttp://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2013/04/28/safety-of-artificial-turf-for-high-school-athletes-still-argued.html
[No. 80] Zambian doctor dissects health issues relating to artificial turf. In an article in Zambia Daily Mail (14 April 2013), Dr. Kabungo Joseph, with nine years’ experience with the national Zambian football (soccer) team, addressed “some of the concerns and realities, which have been expressed by players and medical personnel regarding playing football on artificial surfaces.” “[O]ne of our strikers had to pull out of the team because of fear of having a recurrence injury to his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which he apparently had suffered on both knees previously.” “Artificial surfaces have been said by the various researchers to cause an increased risk of causing injuries to the ankle and knees.” “Each time I have been with the national team on an artificial surface the common observation has been that of increased complaints from players regarding muscle pain especially in the calfs, knee pain, painful hamstrings and in some players even back pain. Physiotherapists always have to do extra work on the players to help them recover quickly after using an artificial playing surface. The other problem is heat, which is transmitted from the playing surface to the football boots. Most of the players will complain of the boots heating up after doing some work on an artificial surface and this is made worse if the player tries to cool off by putting water in the boots. In some situations the heat has caused blisters especially after a long session on artificial surface.”
According to Dr. Kabungo, “Since the surface of the artificial pitch offers very high friction with the playing football boots there is an increased number of ankle sprains seen. The sprains are actually made worse in those players who are carrying minor ankle injuries. The surface in my view is a serious concern to all the coaches and doctors looking after players who have either ankle, knee or calf muscle injuries.” “Since the surface can result in boots getting stuck whilst playing, the forces that are generated are transmitted to the knee and this results in injury to mostly the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).”
“It is understandable when the player who had suffered so much agony as a result of the ACL tear expresses the fears when they are required to be part of a game to be played on an artificial turf,” wrote Dr. Kabungo. “The fears, which the players have, are in my opinion justifiable because of the various documented findings and experiences regarding the medical aspect of an artificial pitch on the players well being. Though artificial surfaces look very good and are of economic value especially in Africa, were resources are limited, there is need to further evaluate them as to whether they are adding value to the game of football especially in terms of players health. This is one area which has to be looked at critically so that the best can come out of the players. The players have to enjoy the game and not endure the agony of dealing with the heated soccer boots when playing on an artificial surface. Above all the injury risks, which are posed by an artificial turf, have to be given a serious thought.” Source: Online Editor, “Medical challenges of using an artificial turf,” in Zambia Daily Mail, 14 April 2013, at http://www.daily-mail.co.zm/?p=4102 .
[No. 79] Hong Kong: Excerpts say ‘keep off artificial turf.’ According to a news report in the South China Morning Post (21 March 2013), experts warn that “[c]heap alternative to fresh green lawns spells a host of environmental risks, particularly to children and sports players.” “Replacing natural grass pitches with artificial turf may reduce maintenance costs but it comes with a cost to public health, environment experts warn. Heavy metals such as lead and zinc are often found in the rubber layer of the turf and its use can drive up temperatures in already steamy urban hot spots, they say.” According to University of Hong Kong grass and soil specialist Professor Jim Chi-yung the rubber would become pulverised and could be inhaled. “’It’s particularly harmful to children who like touching and putting things into their mouths,’ he said.” The horticulturalist “Lam Tak-chak said heavy metals often found in the rubber layer were made from used tyres.” “The plastic grass, being non-biodegradable, would also add to the waste problem when it is discarded in landfills.” Source: Olga Wong, “Health reasons to keep off the artificial grass, experts say,” in South China Morning Post, 21 March 2013, at http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1195658/health-reasons-keep-artificial-grass-experts-say .
[No. 78] Not for the squeamish! A You Tube video on “Artificial Turf Injuries” uploaded by sfparks. Go to : http://youtu.be/k1_tKaeIUDM .
[No. 77] Another gem from sfparks on You Tube. This one is entitledChildren & Synthetic Turf, published on 20 November 2012. In it, leading pediatric health experts discuss impact of artificial play surfaces made of styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR) on children’s health: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlu7jV69qo0&feature=youtu.be ; http://youtu.be/tlu7jV69qo0 . Related video:Children and Synthetic Turf, plus San Francisco Public Health Governance, published on 17 Nov 2012, in which leading pediatric health experts discuss children and artificial turf. The presentation includes “health governance” issues that the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, SF Recreation & Parks Commission, City Fields Foundation, synthetic turf lobbyists, SF Planning Dept., and SF Planning Commission ought to address - http://youtu.be/c3sg2BNlLfU ; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3sg2BNlLfU&feature=youtu.be .
[No. 75] College Park, Maryland: Another season-ending ACL-injury, artificial turf is suspected. According to a news report in the University of Maryland’s independent student newspaper, The Diamondback (6 November 2012), on 5 November 2012, the Terrapin Football program added yet another player to its roster of players out with season-ending ACL tears. The top linebacker Demetrius Hartsfield became the fourth on during the game against to Georgia Tech on 3 November. According to the report, “There is evidence the new FieldTurf Revolution field at Byrd Stadium could be to blame for the injuries, though. [Tim] Hewett, [a sports medicine professor at Cincinnati Children’s HospitalMedicalCenter] said recent studies show ACL tears are ‘something like 63 percent more common’ on turf surfaces than they are on grass… You could say if their foot had been on grass and the grass was wet, maybe there’s enough give there between the shoe and field surface that the foot might have slipped before the knee gives …. When you plant your foot with a real flat foot and you’re dug into the turf, then you twist your body, what happens is — with your foot planted like that — instead of the ball of your foot being up and your foot rotating, your knee rotates, and that basically ruptures your ACL.’” Source: Josh Vitale, “Hartsfield becomes fourth Terp to suffer season-ending ACL injury,” in The Diamondback, 6 November 2012, available at http://www.diamondbackonline.com/sports/football/article_1e891830-27e6-11e2-b850-0019bb30f31a.html .
SynTurf.org Note: In a related story, Brian Urlacher, the linebacker for the Chicago Bears, is reported to state if the NFL is so worried about the safety of players, it ought to do something about knee and ankle injuries. According to a report in The Boston Globe (“Urlacher: Focus on knees,” 16 November 2012, at page C4), “Urlacher would like to see more focus on knees. Specifically, he’d like to see cut blocks banned. ‘But that seems to be OK with the NFL, so they’re not too concerned about safety, obviously … They are concerned about long-term concussions, but immediately they’re not concerned about your knees or your ankles or anything like that. I think that should be an issue. Concussions are taking care of themselves.’ Isn't there a big difference between a head injury and knee injury? ‘Huge … Because a knee injury puts you out for a season, a concussion you may miss a game or two. Huge difference.’ Then he acknowledged the long term impact of head injuries.”
[No. 74] Dr. Susan Buchanan of the University of Illinois at Chicago is concerned about lack of definitive data showing turf fields to be harmless. According to a news report in The Plain Dealer (8 October 2012), “In the past decade, researchers have raised a host of questions about synthetic fields, including how safe they are to play on and the unknown health effects on players from the chemicals in the tires … In June 2008, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a health alert about potential exposure to lead on older synthetic fields.” “There is no definitive data to show whether or not the tire fill is exposing kids to carcinogens, which are known to cause cancer, said Dr. Susan Buchanan, an assistant professor of public health at the University of Illinois at Chicago and associate director of the university’s Great Lakes Center for Children’s Environmental Health. ‘I’m not convinced that the dangers have gone away,’ Buchanan said, noting that some studies did show low-level off-gassing of chemicals. There wasn’t enough research performed or data collected to make a definitive judgement on the safety of the fields.’” Source: Sarah Jane, “Artificial turf: can it impact children's health?,” in The Plain Dealer, 8 October 2012), available at http://www.cleveland.com/healthfit/index.ssf/2012/10/artificial_turf_sports_field_r.html .
[No. 73] Buffalo, New York: Blogger suspects artificial turf as source of early-season football injuries. Jacqueline resides in Buffalo, New York; she roots for the Buffalo Bills. She is a teacher and a coach and quarterbacks one of the two-team game to raise money and awareness for Alzheimer’s Association of Western New York. The following are excerpts from her blog “Artificial Turf Playing Role in Early Season Football Injury,” on Her Game Life, 20 September 2012, at http://www.hergamelife.com/2012/09/artificial-turf-playing-role-in-early-season-football-injuries/ :
If preparation is the best way to handle the concerns of keeping players safe on and off the field, then why, after just two weeks into the regular season, do we have such an abundance of injuries? Going by what we have seen trending thus far, we are looking to hit at least a dozen more head and neck injuries and about triple that amount in leg injuries before mid-season!
There is an overwhelming hype regarding concussions in football that push other, more serious, injuries into the background. Off the top of my head, I can think of a half dozen players that are dealing with season ending injuries such as anterior cruciate ligament tears in the knee (ACL), to a simple broken leg, and to an extremely painful achilles tendon tear. These leg injuries incurred, even have me, a full ankle reconstruction survivor, cringing…. Looking at the progression of football, it is obvious to see that players are bigger, stronger, and faster than ever…. College players that are entering the NFL draft that much stronger, heavier, and faster. With 21 football stadiums sporting artificial turf, there are injuries that cannot be prevented. On artificial surfaces players can change direction harder and faster, so hard that their knees and ankles cannot support the pressure. Traditional blocks that are fundamentally performed seem to be more violent as ever because players collide at faster speeds…. I challenge you to see which of your favorite players are not playing in Week 3 due to an injury sustained while playing on artificial turf.
[No. 72] Canadian professional football team looks at turf as a reason for epidemic knee injuries. The Calgary Stampeders are a professional football team based in Calgary, Alberta. They compete in the West Division of the Canadian Football League. Their home games are played at McMahon Stadium, whose artificial surface is Field Turf; it was installed prior to 2006 season. According to a news item in The Calgary Herald (16 September 2012), “Stamps director of medical services Pat Clayton is trying to get to the bottom of why the club has had so much trouble with knee injuries this season.” Dubbed already as “the season of the knee injury” claimed yet another when on 14 September defensive end Justin Phillips suffered a season-ending ligament tear. “As a result, Stamps director of medical services Pat Clayton has begun a formal study into the rash of knee issues, trying to figure out if there’s been a link between them and how to avoid them in such great numbers in the future… Potential factors include the turf at McMahon Stadium, the footwear the Stamps are using, fatigue, training and stretching techniques and, yes, just straight-out coincidence…. [W]ith the Phillips injury, the Stamps have 11 players … currently dealing with knee problems … The playing surfaces have to be considered a factor because many of the injuries — including Phillips and [wide receiver and kick returnerLarr]Taylor — didn’t involve contact.” Source: Allen Cameron, “Stamps launch formal study into knee injury epidemic: Phillips becomes latest in long line of freakish injuries on the team,” in The Calgary Herald, 16 September 2012, at http://www.calgaryherald.com/sports/Calgary+Stampeders/7251446/story.html
[No. 71] New study says leg injuries significantly higher on artificial turf than grass. According to a research study, entitled An Analysis of Specific Lower Extremity Injury Rates on Grass and FieldTurf Playing Surfaces in National Football League Games: 2000-2009 Seasons, published online in the September 2012 issue of the American Journal of Sports Medicine (Vol. 40, No. 9), “Injury rates for ACL sprains and eversion ankle sprains for NFL games played on FieldTurf were higher than rates for those injuries in games played on grass, and the differences were statistically significant.” According to the study that relied on NFL’s records of injury for seasons 2000-2009, “1356 team games were played on FieldTurf and 4004 team games were played on grass … The injury data showed that 1528 knee sprains and 1503 ankle sprains occurred during those games.” The study “calculated injury rates for knee sprains and ankle sprains - specifically, medial collateral ligament (MCL) sprains, anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) sprains, eversion ankle sprains, and inversion ankle sprains.” “The observed injury rate of knee sprains on FieldTurf was 22% … higher than on grass, and the injury rate of ankle sprains on FieldTurf was 22% … higher than on grass. These differences are statistically significant. Specifically, the observed injury rates of ACL sprains and eversion ankle sprains on FieldTurf surfaces were 67% … and 31% … higher than on grass surfaces and were statistically significant.” The abstract of the study is available at http://ajs.sagepub.com/content/early/2012/09/10/0363546512458888 or click here. Fort a news agency reporting of the study, see Genevra Pittman (Reuters Health), “NFL leg injuries more common on FieldTurf than grass,” on Reuters, 15 September 2012, available at http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/09/14/us-nfl-leg-injuries-idINBRE88D1KT20120914
[No. 70] Foxborough, Mass.: Patriots pad the artificial turf in the practice facility. 22 July 2012. According to a news item onNFL.com (10 July 2012), the New England Patriots have installed a new shock pad underneath the turf at the Patriots’ indoor practice facility Dana-Farber Field House in order to “reduce the likelihood of concussions.” It is claimed that the pad “reduces the chances of a traumatic brain injury by 50 percent when compared to a typical synthetic turf over a stone base.” Source: “New England Patriots pad practice facility to reduce concussions,” on NFL.com, 10 July 2012, at http://www.nfl.com/news/story/09000d5d82a73870/article/new-england-patriots-practice-field-adds-pad-to-reduce-concussions .
[No. 69] Stanford Study says football knee injuries more likely on artificial turf. In November 2011, we reported on the impending release of an exhaustive 10-year study of injuries throughout the NFL that would show that most severe injuries to the knee and ankle occur on artificial turf. Seehttp://www.synturf.org/health.html (Item No. 65: Ed Bouchette, “On the Steelers: Any wonder Baltimore hates us?,” in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 6 November 2011, at http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11310/1187621-66-0.stm#ixzz1dHLSUMma . While we await that study to see the light of day, a new study published recently revealed that knee injuries at the collegiate level is more likely to occur on artificial turf.
We are referring to Jason L. Dragoo (MD), Hillary J. Braun (BA), Michael R. Chen (MD), Jennah L. Durham (BA) and Alex H.S. Harris (PhD0 - Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Stanford University, Redwood City, California, “Incidence and Risk Factors for Injuries to the Anterior Cruciate Ligament in National Collegiate Athletic Association Football, published in American Journal of Sports Medicine, vol. 40 (no. 5), pp. 990-995 May 2012), published online before print on 5 April 2012. The data that the study analyzed came from the 2004-2005 through 2008-2009 National Collegiate Athletic Association Injury Surveillance System. The following is the reproduction of the study’s abstract -http://ajs.sagepub.com/content/40/5/990.abstract (or click here) -
Background: Injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) are common in athletic populations, particularly in athletes participating in football, soccer, and skiing.
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to analyze the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Injury Surveillance System (ISS) men’s football ACL injury database from the playing seasons of 2004-2005 through 2008-2009 to determine the incidence and epidemiology of complete injury to the ACL in NCAA football athletes.
Study Design: Descriptive epidemiology study.
Methods: The NCAA ISS men’s football database was reviewed from the 2004-2005 through 2008-2009 seasons using the specific injury code, “Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) complete tear.” The injury rate was computed for competition and practice exposures. Ninety-five percent confidence intervals (CIs) for the incident rates were calculated using assumptions of a Poisson distribution. Pairwise, 2-sample tests of equality of proportions with a continuity correction were used to estimate the associations of risk factors such as event type, playing surface, season segment, and football subdivision. Descriptive data were also described.
Results: The ACL injury rate during games (8.06 per 10,000 athlete-exposures [AEs] 95% CI, 6.80-9.42) was significantly greater than the rate during practice (0.8 per 10,000 AEs 95% CI, 0.68-0.93). Players were 10.09 (95% CI, 8.08-12.59) times more likely to sustain an ACL injury in competition when compared with practices. When practice exposures were analyzed separately, the injury rate was significantly greater during scrimmages (3.99 per 10,000 AEs 95% CI, 2.29-5.94) compared with regular practices (0.83 per 10,000 AEs 95% CI, 0.69-0.97) and walk-throughs (0 per 10,000 AEs 95% CI, 0-0.14). There was an incidence rate of 1.73 ACL injuries per 10,000 AEs (95% CI, 1.47-2.0) on artificial playing surfaces compared with a rate of 1.24 per 10,000 AEs (95% CI, 1.05-1.45) on natural grass. The rate of ACL injury on artificial surfaces is 1.39 (95% CI, 1.11-1.73) times higher than the injury rate on grass surfaces.
Conclusion: Between 2004 and 2009, NCAA football players experienced a greater number of ACL injuries in games compared with practices, in scrimmages compared with regular practices, and when playing on artificial turf surfaces. This latter finding will need to be confirmed by additional studies.
What does it all mean? According to a news story reported by Reuters Health (30 April 2012):
College football players suffer knee injuries about 40 percent more often when playing on an artificial turf versus grass, according to a U.S. study. The findings, published in The American Journal of Sports Medicine, were part of research that looked back on knee injuries among college football players to see when they might be most vulnerable to getting hurt… The research team examined cases of tears to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the knee that were reported to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Injury Surveillance System. The surveillance system includes about 10 percent of schools in the NCAA, and the study period spanned the 2004-2009 playing season. [The research group] found 318 injuries to the ACL during those seasons, which translated to a rate of 14 injuries for every 100,000 “exposures.” Each time a player practiced, scrimmaged or played a game was counted as one exposure. ACL injuries were 10 times more common during games than during practices, and close to five times as common during scrimmages than during regular practice. Athletes were also 1.39 times as likely to be injured when playing on modern artificial turf as when playing on grass. The newer types of artificial playing fields are called “infill surfaces.” They have a layer of synthetic grass over a field of rubberized pellets called fill. There were close to 18 injuries for every 100,000 exposures among athletes playing on infill surfaces, compared to 14 injuries for every 100,000 practices or games that took place on artificial turf without fill, or on natural grass. James Bradley, the chief orthopedic surgeon for the Pittsburgh Steelers and a clinical professor at the University of Pittsburgh, said the findings support what's also been observed in the National Football League. The problem may be how good a grip players can get on the surfaces with their shoes, with turf perhaps providing too good a grip …. “So if you are in the wrong position, because your leg doesn't give way as it does on grass, it can distribute that force to your knee and cause an injury,” the chief investigator of the research group] said. He added that specialized footwear may help, along with ACL injury prevention training. “The way that you move and the way that you pivot and change direction will determine your risk of having an ACL tear. So even if we do have increased risk on the turf with the shoes, we can modify that by making sure that the athletes are moving right,” he added.
[No. 68] Wayland, Mass.: Wellhead Protection Website. Everyday decisions about land and water uses continue to affect the stewardship and sustainability of the local water supply in many communities around the world. We here at SynTurf.org would like our readers to know that the members of the former Wayland Wellhead Protection Committee have launched a new website, www.WaylandWells.com . Even though the site is focused on Wayland, the general information on the site should have lateral appeal to well water issues in other places. The site is a comprehensive repository of information about Wayland’s drinking water supply. It contains access to hundreds of public documents, including a vast array of maps, pictures, reports, recommendations and links. The site seeks to inform and energize the public to protect the town’s most precious resource. The readers can find everything from the most basic information to technical details regarding testing results, potential sources of contamination, regulations, and what they can do to help protect their drinking water. One of the goodies on the site is Wayland’s 2011 Wellhead Protection Plan, which was commended by Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection for its thoroughness and practicality. So be sure to explore the “Getting Involved” section.
[No. 67] Concern in Australia over carcinogens in artificial turf and soft-fall rubber surfaces. According to a news report in the Cumberland Courier (12 January 2012), the Leichhardt Council, near Sydney, Australia, will “investigate claims that artificial turf used in playgrounds could be a health risk for children.” According to the article, Dr. Mariann Lloyd Smith of the National Toxics Network has called for regulation of “the manufacture and testing of artificial turf claiming studies have shown some compounds used were a cancer risk.” “If people thought about what was required to turn recycled tyres into turf they would be asking for testing of the compounds,” Dr Lloyd Smith said. “Hot weather can release chemicals that children can breathe in and they often put things off the ground in their mouths, which exposes them to risk.” According to the acting mayor the council’s primary concern is the health and safety of children using the playgrounds. “If we have reason to believe that there is a risk to the health and safety of the children and carers using playgrounds with artificial turf we will of course replace any such turf and will no longer install it at any of our facilities,” he said. Source: Deborah FitzGerald, “Leichhardt Council to investigate cancer risk in playgrounds,” in Cumberland Courier, 12 January 2012, available at http://inner-west-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/leichhardt-council-to-investigate-cancer-risk-in-playgrounds/ .
According to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald (22 January 2012), “[the] health of thousands of children may be at risk from long-term exposure to toxic chemicals from artificial turf that has become a popular replacement for grass on sporting ovals and school playgrounds around the country.” Here are excerpts from the article:
Australian scientists have raised the alarm over the potential dangers of the fake grass, and called for a moratorium on its use until its safety can be established.
An investigation by The Sun-Herald has revealed widespread concerns about the turf. These are centred on a range of factors, from the cheap imported products that are not tested for toxic chemicals and made from unknown materials to what makes up the turf favoured for soccer fields - crumb rubber that comes from recycled tyres.
Warnings have also been issued around the world about cases of turf heating up to such temperatures that it can cause burns and heat stress.
Residents in someSydneysuburbs have successfully fought the introduction of synthetic grass, including at Arlington Recreation Reserve in Dulwich Hill, where they forced Marrickville Council to reverse its decision. At Montessori East pre-school and school inWaverley, the principal, Bill Conway, said he was worried about artificial turf and it was being removed.
Mariann Lloyd-Smith, of the National Toxics Network, a non-government group of scientists and community members, said: “'Children are at greatest risk because of their activities - particularly hand-to-mouth ingestion. And we know that children are so much more susceptible to hazardous materials.” Dr Lloyd-Smith, also a federal government adviser on chemicals, said tests were needed and should take into accountAustralia's high temperatures. And groups installing the turf needed to think about the consequences and their future liabilities.
A series of studies in theUS,DenmarkandItalyhave again raised concerns about long-term intensive exposure to artificial turf. Numerous studies around the world have had differing results, however, with some arguing no increased health risks.
A study released in 2010 by the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection revealed the presence of chemical carcinogens in the air over an artificial field, but the findings were reportedly “softened”' for public release.
An oncologist with the Yale Cancer Centre in Connecticut, Barry Boyd, who is also a consultant to the Environment and Human Health Inc, has said: “'While fear of raising concerns may be an understandable motive for limiting public information about risk, the long-recognised goal of limiting childhood exposures to environmental hazards must take precedence.”
The [New South Wales] Greens MP, Cate Faehrmann, said the government should back a moratorium until the health impacts were known. She said one of the most common ingredients used in artificial turf, a type of rubber, had not been subject to any human health or environmental toxicological assessment by the notification and assessment scheme or the Department of Health.
[No. 66] Canberra, Australia: Coach says it is crazy for women soccer players to play on artificial turf.Jitka Klimková, a former Czech soccer defender, coaches Canberra United’s manager in Australia’s Women League. Caitlin Munoz, 28, a member of Australia’s 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup team, is a striker. On Friday, 30 December 2011, her team played to a 1-1 draw against Melbourne Victory at Veneto Club in Bulleen, a suburb of Melbourne. The surface at the stadium is synthetic TigerTurf, according to the club’s website http://www.venetoclubmelbourne.com.au/sports .
According to a news report in The Canberra Times, after the game coach Klimkova “lashed out at the synthetic surface she believes contributed to a potential season-ending injury to playmaker Caitlin Munoz.” “Munoz was inconsolable after being forced from the field in the second half.” “Klimkova feels it played a role in the veteran Matildas’ right knee injury.”
Klimkova voiced concern about the impact of synthetic turf playing surfaces on women players in particular. “'I think it’s really bad for women’s football to play on the [synthetic] turf, and I’m sure if we played on the grass it [the injury] wouldn’t happen. “It’s crazy to play on synthetic because knee injuries can happen much easier than in men's football. It was also nearly 40 degrees and playing on the turf meant it was much hotter,” she is quoted in the Times as saying. Source: Jon Tuxworth, “Klimkova slams synthetic turf,” in The Canberra Times, 1 January 2012, available at http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/local/sport/football-soccer/klimkova-slams-synthetic-turf/2407475.aspx .
SynTurf.org Note: 40 degrees (Celcius) equals 104 degrees Fahrenheit. In fairness to the player involved, she did not blame her injury on turf, saying that with knees it is a matter of bad luck and it was already sore the day before and, besides, she has had a history of knee problems. Here is thought though: Ms. Munoz, how much have you been playing on artificial turf? If a lot, then what you are going through over and over is the cumulative effect of playing on this type of surface.
In 2008 we reported on a review by Bill Littlefield ofMichael Sokolove’s, Warrior Girls: Protecting Our Daughters Against the Injury Epidemic in Women’s Sports (Simon & Schuster, 2008). Here is an excerpt from http://www.synturf.org/health.html (Item No. 16):
Sokolove’s point is that in this culture, the way kids play sports is not particularly good for either sex. “For the girls, though, it is all too often disastrous.” This is because for a variety of reasons, writes Littlefield, “girls suffer more knee, back, and head injuries than men playing the same sports. At the most competitive levels of soccer and basketball, girls and women suffer anterior cruciate ligament tears about eight times as often as men do.” Sokolove writes, “What does threaten women’s sports is that far too many girls and young women are leaving the playing field broken up and in pain.” “he makes the his case with statistics, interviews, and powerful stories about women who might have been stars if their knees hand’t exploded” writes Littlefield of Sokolove’s work. Sokolove suggests kids play several different sports, because “specialization means more stress through repetitive motion on the same developing muscles and joints.” “he encourages parents to resist the ‘bullying’ of coaches who argue that without a full time, year-around commitment, a 10-year old athlete will fall behind her peers.” Source: Bill Littlefield, Getting Played: The risks to children – particularly girls – in increasing competitive sports. The Boston Sunday Globe, July 27, 2008, Ideas section, p. K6, available at http://www.boston.com/ae/books/articles/2008/07/27/getting_played?mode=PF.
[No. 65] A soon-to-be released 10-year study of injuries throughout the NFL will back the Rooneys’ disdain of artificial turf as unsafe. According to a news item in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (6 November 2011), “Grass is always greener ... and safer [.] Dan and Art Rooney have long maintained they prefer grass at Heinz Field instead of artificial turf because they believed it to be safer for players. They did this even though the condition of the grass field has been ridiculed on occasion. It reached a crescendo during the “Four Rivers Stadium” game played in the muck in 2007, a 3-0 Steelers victory over Miami, a game whose lasting memory was a shot of the nose of the football stuck in the mud after a punt. Turns out, the Rooneys were right to resist installing artificial turf, at least as it pertains to player safety. A new, exhaustive 10-year study of injuries throughout the NFL will be released soon and will show that most severe injuries to the knee and ankle occur on artificial turf.” Source: Ed Bouchette, “On the Steelers: Any wonder Baltimore hates us?,” in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 6 November 2011), available at http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11310/1187621-66-0.stm#ixzz1dHLSUMma .
[No. 64] Laguna Beach, California: High School takes steps to minimize risk of injury to players. A while back we featured a mom who made it her mission to make the artificial turf field at Laguna BeachHigh School as a safe playing surface that it could be. See our coverage at http://www.synturf.org/staphnews.html (Item No. 10) and http://www.synturf.org/health.html (Item No. 64). We have received news that the school officials have heeded her calls and have taken laudable steps in ensuring the health and safety of the players by cleaning the locker rooms and testing for bacteria, acquiring protective practice helmets and long sleeve shirts for the games to prevent turf burns. In addition, the school has cleaned the field and tested the field’s G-Max, which at the line of scrimmage, after the grooming, reportedly has measured 170.
The hardness and shock absorption properties of a turf field are gauged by G-Max, a measurement of acceleration that relates to the maximum force of a collision. A surface with a high G-max absorbs less force, meaning a dropped object sustains more force upon collision. Most fields, after installation, have a G-Max level between 100 and 140. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, anything above 200 is considered unacceptable. The higher the G-Max, the bigger the force the player will sustain; hence, the bigger chance of concussive injury. Seehttp://www.synturf.org/health.html (Item No. 56). Reportedly, the G-Max limit of 200 was apparently set years ago in order to give astroturf a pass. That was before the new generation technology of cushy infilled systems.
In some bid documents, for a rubber & sand filled system or rubber-only filled system, SynTurf.org has noted requirements that at the time of substantial completion of the filed, the system’s shock attenuation shall have an average G-Max value less than 110 for a padded system and less than 135 for a non-padded system, based on ASTM-F355A; at no time the G-Max value exceed 145 for a padded system and 170 for a non-padded system throughout the life of the warranty. Seewww.aturf.com/specifications/A-Turf_Titan.doc or click here. Theree is some indication that the National Football League has lowered the G-Max limit from 200.
[No. 63] Novato, California: Heat exhaustion takes toll on football teams. According to a news item in Petaluma Argus-Courier (23 September 2011), “Playing football at Novato High School Saturday [17 September 2011] afternoon was like playing inside a microwave. Football games have been played on hotter days, and the humidity wasn’t unbearable. But, mid-game temperature (kickoff was at 2 p.m.) was well above 90. Novato’s artificial turf is threadbare. Not only is it hard, but it also reflects heat upward like an algae-colored lake. By the second half, I was shedding shoes at every time out and injury - and there were a lot of injuries. I can’t remember when I’ve seen so many players sick from what was apparently heat exhaustion. It wasn’t just the Petaluma players, the Novato players were also leaving the field by twos and threes. Not to be too gross about the whole thing, but you could certainly tell what color Gatorade the players had been drinking.” Source: John Jackson, “Heat and injuries at the Novato football game,” in Petaluma Argus-Courier, 23 September 2011, available at http://www.petaluma360.com/article/20110923/COMMUNITY/110929738/1371/COMMUNITY02?Title=Heat-and-injuries-at-the-Novato-football-game
[No. 62] West Milford, New Jersey: Concession stand is closed pending water testing due to nearby artificial turf field.According to a news report inStraus News (May 19, 2011), “The West Milford Township Board of Health closed down the concession stand located at McCormack Field, the site of the new artificial turf field. And the order came the day before the turf field was officially opened to the public last month.” “According to Kathryn Coyman, a registered environmental health specialist with the West Milford Health Department, the health department received a complaint that the water at the concession stand had not been adequately tested for potability, a requirement for any food service establishment.” “So, in a letter dated April 20, 2011, Coyman told the district the concession stand is not approved for food service operations.” “The district’s business administrator, Barbara Francisco, said water testing results recently came back within acceptable limits but may not have been tested for some of the materials that caused concern because of the turf field. It will be tested again, she said. It had not been tested for many years, if at all, because it was an irrigation well for the field that was tied into the bathrooms, but is now on the regular testing schedule.” Source: Linda Smith Hancharick and Patricia Keller, “Board of health closes school’s concession stand,” in Straus News, May 19, 2011, available at http://www.strausnews.com/articles/2011/05/20/west_milford_messenger/news/5.txt
Denise De La Torre, left and her son Ricki, at Guyer Field. Photo by Ted Reckas
[No. 61] Laguna Beach, California: Football mom calls out town officials for negligence and indifference. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. May 6, 2011. If you are a regular reader of this site, you will recall that last December (2010) we featured the harrowing saga of a football mom to get the school district to maintain its artificial turf fields in conditions that minimize harm to the players. See “Laguna Beach, California: Who is watching the adults?” http://www.synturf.org/staphnews.html (Item No. 10).
Laguna’s school board on Tuesday denied a claim sought by parent Denise De La Torre, whose son, Ricki, was injured playing football last October.
Since the denial of the claim was a scheduled agenda item, De La Torre took the opportunity to air her concerns about district protocols for treating injured athletes and disinfecting the artificial turf and locker rooms.
Her son, a junior, who suffered a groin pull during a practice, sustained another injury, a bruised pelvis, playing in a game Oct. 8, walking off the field in pain. After a series of emergency room and doctor visits, Ricki was finally diagnosed with a staph infection over two weeks later.
Earlier this month, De La Torre told the Indy that in all her hospital bills were about $40,000 and that she had filed a claim with the school for $3,500 “in unpaid medical costs.”
At the meeting Tuesday, neither the board members nor De La Torre referred directly to the details of her claim. However, De La Torre reiterated concerns about the expertise of the high school’s athletic department as well as their practices for disinfecting the artificial turf field and locker rooms, touching on a national debate about the relationship between artificial turf and staph infections.
De La Torre said that she has spoken to numerous experts on the subject and obtained data that she has shared with the district. While she submitted three complaint forms to the district, followed by letters to the district and to board member Ketta Brown, and while the district, in turn, offered written responses to De La Torre’s missives, she feels their response has been inadequate, and she said on Tuesday that her concerns have not been properly addressed. For one thing, she was told that the football field was sanitized in 2009 and that such treatment lasts for two years. De La Torre disagreed, saying her research revealed no product that could disinfect a field for such a length of time. For this and other reasons, she intends to keep pressing administrators to adopt different standards.
Because the agenda item involved a legal claim, board members were prohibited from commenting on the matter. Superintendent Sherine Smith, reached the next day, said that the district has “been very proactive about the field and locker room.”
SynTurf.org Note: We have learned the among the documents that De La Torre’s research turned up were a few from the artificial turf industry itself, recommending the procedures that De La Torre had been trying the school district to adopt. Here are a few:
1- An e-mail from Tom Enright, Division Vice President, Shaw/Sportexe, 1201 Roberts Blvd NW, Kennesaw, GA 30144, in which Enright stated: “While synthetic turf fields require substantially less maintenance than a natural grass field, they are by no means maintenance free. Under separate cover Jeff Threet with my office is sending you our currentmaintenance brochure. Every manufacturer in the industry recommends proper maintenance to insure the long term performance of your investment. The frequency of maintenance is often debated as the amount and intensity of usage varies so widely. A common example I use is that of a typical football summer camp I visited. This particular camp was for place kickers. Five days for 6 hours a day kids were kicking field goals. The majority were from extra point marker. This extreme usage kicked all the infill out of that small area. The coaches were unaware of the safety hazard created. They needed to maintain this area daily, replacing the displaced infill. It seems the current industry consensus is that you should sweep and groom the field every 100-200 hours of typical usage. Some schools are now requiring yearly Gmax tests as part of our base bid. There are now maintenance specialists who as a supplement to a school's regular maintenance will annually or semi annually decompact the infill, use amagnet to pull out any metals and spray a disinfectant.”
2. Information (E-mail and brochures) Carol Szatkowski at antimicrobial.com, dated 5 January 2011 3:11, which stated: “Hello Denise, I am sending a package to you that have product samples of FabricAide and SurfaceAide XL. Also enclosed are some of our brochures and flyers that you can share with the school. This is coming from Michigan so it will probably arrive the beginning of next week. It is important for schools to realize that disinfectant/cleaners and antimicrobials have differences. Disinfectants stop working as soon as they are dry. Antimicrobials continuously inhibit the growth of bacteria, but dirt and grime can overwhelm the coating. So the surface or turf still needs periodic cleaning so the antimicrobial can function. The warranty that came with the turf application warrants that the coating is still on the field as applied. It still needs to be cleaned of dirt, debris and biofilm so the antimicrobial layer can do its job correctly.
Thank you for your call!”
In addition, De La Torre apprised the school district of the necessity to test the fields for G-Max. In support of that position, she produced an article by Mark Dent and Brandon George, “Turf issue: Most area schools not regularly testing safety of sports fields,” The Dallas Morning News, November 12, 2010, which read in part:
Synthetic turf fields of area high schools aren't being tested or are not being tested often
enough to ensure athletes' safety, a problem that experts say could place football players
at a greater risk for concussions.
Findings from an open-records request by The Dallas Morning News revealed that most
schools don't test the safety and durability of their athletic fields on a regular basis. The
hardness and shock absorption properties of a turf field are gauged by G-max, a
measurement of acceleration that relates to the maximum force of a collision. A surface
with a high G-max absorbs less force, meaning a dropped object sustains more force upon collision.
Area fields' G-max ratings. Most fields, after installation, have a G-max level between 100 and 140. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, anything above 200 is considered unacceptable. "What's absolutely true is the higher the G-max, the bigger the force the player will sustain," said Dr. Timothy Gay, a physics professor at the University of Nebraska and author of the book Football Physics: The Science of the Game. "Hence, the bigger chance of concussive injury." The only way to judge the G-max rating and thus the field's safety is by conducting a Gmax impact test, something few schools do. Dr. Andrew McNitt, a professor of soil science and turfgrass at Perm State University and member of the Synthetic Turf Managers Association, recommended that high schools test their fields upon installation and then annually, adding that an every-other-year plan would also be a worthy precaution. "I can walk across fields and think this feels soft, and when we test it's on the hard side," he said. "It's not an easy thing to perceive. You need to impact it."
Based on records obtained from 34 area school districts, only three - Waxahachie, Cedar
Hill and Denton - had followed annual testing plans. Dallas, Highland Park, Red Oak,
Richardson , Lewisville , Allen, Arlington, Hurst-Euless-Bedford and Lovejoy had tested
or scheduled testing at least once. The majority hadn't tested at all, although the Northwest, Piano, Lake Dallas, Rockwall and Carrollton-Farmers Branch districts performed tests, all of them revealing G-max levels lower than 200, after receiving The News' open-records request.
A G-max test costs an average of $750 to $1,000, a minor annual investment considering
that prices for synthetic turf stadium packages range from $300,000 to $1 million….
[No. 60] Injuries on Artificial Turf Fields. Last March 2010 we posted an item ( http://www.synturf.org/health.html Item No. 543) about the an injury study relating to artificial turf fields. Not intending to beating a dead horse further, the results of the same study is being reported on Safety & Health at http://www.nsc.org/safetyhealth/Pages/research_links_artificial_turf_to_increased_lower-extremity_injuries.aspx . Here is the verbatim entry: “Research links artificial turf to increased lower-extremity injuries. Playing on the artificial surface FieldTurf increases knee and ankle injuries among professional football players, indicates research presented at the 2010 Annual Meeting of the American Orthopaedic Association. The study examined injuries that occurred to players in the National Football League between 2002 and 2008, and found teams that played on FieldTurf had a 27 percent higher lower-extremity injury rate than those that played on natural surfaces. According to a press release from the Rosemont, IL-based AmericanAcademy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the greatest difference was seen among injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament and eversion ankle sprains -- where the ankle twists outward. Playing on FieldTurf was associated with an 88 percent greater risk of ACL injury and a 48 percent increase in eversion ankle sprains. Lead author Elliott B. Hershman stressed in the press release that the study only focused on NFL players and called for further study to determine what impact, if any, playing on FieldTurf had among younger players or those playing different sports, such as soccer.”
[No. 59] Chicago, Illinois: Experts tackle the safety of artificial turf fields. In early April 2011 we posted a story about a grassroots organization in Chicago convening a panel to discuss the adverse impact of artificial turf fields on the human health and the environment. See http://www.synturf.org/grassrootsnotes.html (Item No. 58). We are now pleased to update that story by referring you to You Tube for a look at “Toxic Chemicals: The Safety of Synthetic Fields and How Environmental Laws are Failing Our Children” forum held on Monday, March 21, 2011 at the Notebart Museum, Chicago, Illinois athttp://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=03CD7E15109B78B1 .
[No. 58] San Diego, Calif.: Punt returner busts tibia and fibula when cutting back on artificial turf. Greg Allen is an 18-year football player for the HilltopHigh School in San Diego. Last October  he busted his right tibia and fibula. According to a news report in the San Diego Union-Tribune (March 15, 2011) this what happened: He was returning a punt down the left sideline … when he saw daylight… “He could see his blocks developing downfield. With all that space to his right, he had a chance to break the play open, if only, if only, if only -- crack. ‘I was trying to go for a cutback,’ said Allen, whose leg caught in the football turf. ‘It didn’t quite go as I planned it.’” Source: Michael Gehlken, “Prep star is coming back from a bad break,” in the San Diego Union-Tribune, March 15, 2011, available at http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2011/mar/15/prep-star-coming-back-bad-break/
[No. 57] Calcutta, India: Rugby Union opposes artificial turf field for National Games in February. The preparations of India’s 34th National Games are underway. They are due to open on February 12, 2011. According to a news item in The Telegraph (December 30, 2010), the Indian Rugby Football Union is not very happy with the installation of artificial turf field at the venue for their games at Sili. “The stadium there is not suitable for rugby. An artificial grass surface cannot be laid because it will cause injury when players slide to tackle. Instead, the surface at Birsa Munda Stadium can be improved in a month’s time,” unless grass can be laid at Sili in the next 20 days. Source: Arun Kumar Thakur, “Tech thumbs up to Games,” in The Telegraph, December 30, 2010, available at http://www.telegraphindia.com/1101231/jsp/frontpage/story_13373580.jsp .
[No. 56] What’s your artificial turf field’s G-Max? According to a news report in TheDallas Morning News (November 12, 2010), “The hardness and shock absorption properties of a turf field are gauged by G-max, a measurement of acceleration that relates to the maximum force of a collision. A surface with a high G-max absorbs less force, meaning a dropped object sustains more force upon collision. Most fields, after installation, have a G-max level between 100 and 140. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, anything above 200 is considered unacceptable.” “Findings from an open-records request by The Dallas Morning News revealed that most schools don't test the safety and durability of their athletic fields on a regular basis.” According to Dr. Timothy Gay, a physics professor at the University of Nebraska and author of the book Football Physics: The Science of the Game, “What’s absolutely true is the higher the G-max, the bigger the force the player will sustain. Hence, the bigger chance of concussive injury.” “The only way to judge the G-max rating and thus the field's safety is by conducting a G-max impact test, something few schools do.” “Dr. Andrew McNitt, a professor of soil science and turfgrass at PennStateUniversity and member of the Synthetic Turf Managers Association, recommended that high schools test their fields upon installation and then annually, adding that an every-other-year plan would also be a worthy precaution.” Source: By Mark Dent and Brandon George, “Turf issue: Most area schools not regularly testing safety of sports fields,” in The Dallas Morning News, November 12, 2010, available at http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/localnews/stories/DN-1ahsgmax_11spo.ART.State.Edition1.4b32a36.html
[No. 55] Salt Lake City, Utah: Artificial playing surfaces may add to greater injury in an extended season. Over the years, SynTurf.org has published items that reflect the attitude of professional football and soccer players toward artificial playing surfaces. Year after year, the NFL Players Association polls reveal a persistent revulsion on the part of the players toward fake grass due to the wear and tear that these surfaces inflict on the athletes. These surveys and other items relevant to them are available at http://www.synturf.org/health.html (Item Nos. 24, 41, 45) and http://www.synturf.org/playersview.html (Item Nos. 3, 4, 5, 14, 24).
We have also expressed the view every now and then – worth repeating and often – artificial turf ought to be made an issue in the player-management talks when it comes to collective bargaining, with players insisting that NFL moves away from artificial grass. To eliminate the question of fake grass under the domed venues, all NFL games – as well as other field games - should be played in open air and on natural grass. Too often the venal interests of owners and managers eclipse the legitimate concerns of the players who keep seeing their careers getting cut short or tortured because of the fake grass playing surfaces.
1. The NFL concussion rate is so serious that Congress is looking into it. 2. Many NFL teams are now playing on a synthetic turf that, according to one study, has an injury rate that is 27 percent higher than on grass. 3. The lifespan of an NFL player is about 20 years shorter than the average American male. 4. Players are bigger and faster and harder-hitting (read: more dangerous) than ever.
So what does the NFL want to do? Add two more games to the regular season.
Doesn't this just sound like a perfect storm of events for increasing the injury rate, not reducing it?
On Sunday [October 3, 2010], two Redskins' defenders crushed Michael Vick like a walnut and knocked him out of the game, perhaps for weeks. The Giants bounced Jay Cutler's head off the turf like a basketball, and he exited the game with a concussion. Then they did the same to his replacement, Todd Collins. Five starting quarterbacks have already been sidelined by injuries after just four weeks of the season.
Running backs Ray Rice, Reggie Bush, Clinton Portis, Ryan Grant, Chris Johnson and Ryan Matthews are already gimpy or gone. Superstar receiver Andre Johnson was unable to play last week because of an ankle injury, and All-Pro safety Bob Sanders is out for the year.
It's no wonder. Thirty years ago, there was one player in the entire NFL who weighed 300 pounds. In the last few years, there have been as many as 400 of them in fall camp. And yet players are faster than ever … As if the game weren't fast enough, they play on a green carpet. Add steroids to the mix — c'mon, you don't think they're part of the game? — and, voila, you've got carnage….
Now the NFL wants to add two more games' worth of collisions to its regular season. That's two more games at the end of the season, when players are already fatigued and more injury-prone. It means shortened careers. It means a nine-year career becomes the equivalent of the current 10-year career ….
Nobody put it better than Sports Illustrated columnist Selena Roberts when she wrote, "Fans will only notice the effects of an 18-game season if the quality of play deteriorates. When does the quality of players' lives enter the equation?"…
There's a reason that nobody plays 18 games in a season at any level — little league, high school, college or pro. It's too hard on players. That's why they're the only sport that plays only one game per week. Baseball can play 162 games, basketball 82, but football has its limits. The NFL played 12-game schedules until it went to 14 games in 1961 and then 16 games in 1978 and soon it will be 18. Where will it stop?
The extra games reduce the importance and drama of regular-season games, and they wear out players. There is only one reason the league is expanding its schedule. You guessed it: Money. Nobody is really thinking of the players.
[No. 54] UCLA’s football players dogged by artificial turf. According to a news report in the Los Angeles Times (August 12, 2010), the UCLA’s defensive end, Datone Jones, suffered a broken foot injury during practice on synthetic turf on Tuesday, August 10. “Jones suffered a broken right foot running on the turf during practice … and will have surgery Friday [August 13] to insert a screw to hold together his fifth metatarsal.”
According to the coach Rick Neuheisel, the injury occurred when Jones was “running, making a play on quarterback, and stepped in an awkward way and put a little pressure on that bone.” According to the report, “It was another in a handful of serious injuries that have occurred in non-contact situations on the synthetic turf the last few seasons.”
A former UCLA linebacker Christian Taylor told the Times “I hate that surface. I don’t know if they laid it out wrong or what. It’s very slippery. You can’t get your feet under you.” “Several players, past and present, have complained about the surface, saying it is uneven and cleats often get caught. Sophomore cornerback Brandon Sermons suffered a fractured left femur during spring practice while participating in a one-on-one passing drill on the turf. ‘I just ran up and planted my leg and the bone snapped,’ Sermons said. ‘There was no contact.’ When asked about the field, Sermons said, ‘There have been a few players hurt in that same spot.’”
On one occasion, the former quarterbacks “Ben Olson and Patrick Cowan suffered injuries on consecutive plays during spring practice in 2008. Cowan injured his knee stepping up in the pocket to throw a pass and was lost for the season. Olson broke a bone in his foot on a handoff. Olson reinjured the foot the next summer and missed the season.” According to Neuheisel “Ben was a freak deal. Ben was probably wearing the wrong shoe for a guy as big as he is.” “In 2007, prior to Neuheisel's arrival, tailback Raymond Carter was jogging through an agility drill when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee. ‘I was trying to cut and my cleat got stuck in the turf,’ Carter said at the time. Last August, tackle Micah Kia tore ligaments in his knee and was lost for the season. He said at the time that he was injured when he tried to plant his leg into the turf.” Source: Chris Foster, “UCLA’s Datone Jones to have surgery on broken foot,” in Los Angeles Times, August 12, 2010, available http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-0812-ucla-football-20100812,0,5669340.story .
SynTurf.org Note: In the same report, coach Rick Neuheisel pointed “We’re well within the life span” of the turf and there is no “scientific evidence” that shows the Bruins’ turf is different from other synthetic fields. “I do not believe these injuries are because of the turf.I believe that these are fast players who get a little out of control,” Neuheisel said.
Just an afterthought, Coach Neuheisel – Maybe you should care more about the health of your athletes, get the spot fixed. As for fast players who get out of control – have you considered some of the reasons why the players are fast – maybe the traction of these fields adds to their speed. Out of control – try making those playbook sharp cuts on the unforgiving turf. Lastly, check out some of the biomechanical studies that we post on this site (page) from time to time. There is no excuse for a coach to come across like a dumb jock.
[No. 53] MLB: Turf injury reported for Mets’ Reyes. According to a news story on Mets Blog (July 1, 2010), “The Mets' worst fears about playing a series on artificial turf may have been realized last night [June 30]. Jose Reyes was a late scratch from the lineup with a stiff right side -- an injury the Mets were calling "turf related" before they beat the Marlins 6-5 at Hiram Bithorn Stadium (San Juan, Puerto Rico). Source: Mike Puma, “Reyes' scratch blamed on turf,” on Mets Blog, July 1, 2010, available at http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/mets/reyes_scratch_blamed_on_turf_qv3aqmiwILOQggdfgD6DbL .
[No. 52] Giants players weary about artificial turf at Meadowlands.Domenik Hixon a wide receiver and return specialist for the New York Giants of the National Football League. During minicamp, on June 15, 2010, during minicamp, “Hixon crumpled to the new FieldTurf untouched on a punt return and tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee,” according to eyewitness account by safety safety Antrel Rolle. “I was right there when it happened and I saw it right away,” Rolle told ESPNNewYork.com on Thursday after the Giants’ final practice of veterans’ minicamp. “And I was like, ‘Damn, it don’t look good.’ He didn't make a cut or anything. It just got caught in the turf.”
When the Giants took to the field on June 15, “some players said the turf felt soft and slippery.” “I thought it was real slippery,” wide receiver Steve Smith said. “We were all slipping and stuff. Hopefully it settles in when more people do stuff on it.” “Rolle said he couldn’t put his finger on what the turf felt like.” “I don't know what it was,” Rolle said. “My feet were burning at the bottom on the turf. I was slipping on each and every play. It just didn't feel good to me at all. I can't lie to you about that. I am not one to really complain or make excuses or anything but they should definitely look into that as far as playing on that field in the future during the season.” “Rolle said he initially thought he was the only one who felt a burning sensation in his feet.” “I thought maybe it was just me and my cleats,” Rolle said. “But everyone's feet were burning, guys had a hard time gripping, they were getting caught a lot.” Source: Ohm Youngmisuk, “Rolle believes turf caused Hixon's injury,” on ESPN, in June 17, 2010,
[No. 51] Rays’ outfielder is ordered off the artificial turf. According to a news story on KFFL.com (June 6, 2010) “Tampa Bay Rays OF Carl Crawford sat out [f]or the second time in the last three games Thursday, June 10, for what manager Joe Maddon called "preventative maintenance," according to The Associated Press. Crawford pinch ran and stole a base in the ninth inning. "There's nothing wrong," Maddon said. "We just want to get him off his feet, especially on the (artificial) turf. He's always had trouble with this particular field." Source: “Carl Crawford out again Thursday,” on KFFL.com, June 6, 2010, available at http://www.kffl.com/gnews.php?id=649993 .
[No. 50] Turf Toe – A Primer. The following is from University of Wisconsin Badgers’ Sports Medicine Corner: Ryan Dean, “A look at the often-misunderstood and painful condition of turf toe,” on UWbadgers.com, June 2, 2010, available at http://www.uwbadgers.com/genrel/060210aab.htmlor click here. Here are a few excerpts from the longer memo:
“What is it? Turf toe is an injury of the foot. It received its name from its association with athletes that participate on harder surfaces such as artificial turf.”
“Turf toe could keep an athlete sidelined anywhere from a few hours to an entire season depending on the severity of the injury.”
“Who’s at risk? While anyone can suffer from turf toe, athletes involved in running and/or jumping sports are at a higher risk. Athletes that run on harder surfaces such as hardwood, tracks, and artificial turf are also at higher risks because these surfaces have less give than a softer surface such as grass.”
[No. 49] Eagles safety Marlin Jackson injured on artificial turf. According to a news story in the Burlington County Times (June 2, 2010), on Tuesday, 1, 2010, during a practice session at Eagles’ indoor facility, the safety Marlin Jackson ruptured the Achilles tendon in his right leg; his 2010 NFL season ending before it begins. “Jackson was injured when he tried to change direction while defending Jeremy Maclin on a routine non-contact drill, a completion from Kevin Kolb.” “Although a couple players have suffered severe injuries during noncontact minicamps at the NovaCare - Ndukwe Kalu and Correll Buckhalter come to mind - Jackson is believed to be the first player seriously injured on the bubble's artificial turf field since the indoor facility opened in 2002.” Source: Reuben Franck, “Jackson suffers another setback,” in Burlington County Times, June 2, 2010, available at http://www.phillyburbs.com/news/news_details/article/117/2010/june/02/jackson-suffers-another-setback.html .
[No. 48] The curse of artificial turf visits A Rod’s groin. According to a news report on MLB.com (June 6, 2010), “Alex Rodriguez left the Yankees' 4-3 win over the Blue Jays on Sunday [June 6, 2010] in the ninth inning with tightness in his right groin.” “It was more the turf than anything else -- probably the 14 innings yesterday and the early game today,” Rodriguez said after the game. “It's fine now. I'll be ready to go on Tuesday.” Rodriguez said he first felt the tightness before even taking the field and that it got "a little bit" worse as the game progressed. He added that his baserunning mistake in the second inning -- when he was thrown out trying to reach second base on a single that squirted off the hands of shortstop Alex Gonzalez into left field -- had “nothing to do with” the tightness. Source: Tim Britton, “A-Rod exits with groin tightness; Third baseman expects to play for Yanks on Tuesday [June 8, 2010], on MLB.com, June 6, 2010, available at http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20100606&content_id=10887484&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb .
Update: According to a news story on MLB.com (June 10, 2010), “Alex Rodriguez was removed from [June 10, 2010] Thursday's 4-3 loss to the Orioles after the first inning with tightness in his right groin, and he will see a team physician on Friday [June 11, 2010] in New York.” “Rodriguez has been battling tightness in his right groin since last weekend in Toronto, a situation he attributed to the artificial turf at Rogers Centre.” Source: Bryan Hoch, “A-Rod has tight groin, will visit doctor Friday,” on MLB.com, June 10, 2010, available at http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20100610&content_id=11041982&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb .
[No. 47] Toronto, Canada: Turf field at RogersCenter claims Italian soccer star. In European soccer, the rivalry between Juventus (Turin, Italy) and Fiorentina (Florence) is legendary. On May 25, 2010, they met in a friendly at the RogersCenter in Toronto. Fiorentina won 1 to nil. The greater casualty however was the Juventus’ defender Goncalo Brandao. Accroding to news report in The Toronto Sun (May 26, 2010), he “looked to get a cleat caught as he tried to chase down Fiorentina striker Babacar Khouma. He fell awkwardly, and slammed his fists into the turf in pain. He was taken off the field on a cart.” Also playing in the match was Alessandro Del Piero, arguably one of Italy’s best-ever forwards. He said the conditions were far from ideal. “It’s not the best,” he said of the turf. “We prefer to play on a more natural terrain. Natural turf is better than synthetic surfaces.” “The stadium is beautiful, I felt very good,” said Fiorentina’s player Stevan Jovetic. “We made adjustments, We aren’t used to playing on artificial surfaces.” Source: Steven Sandor, “Artificial in many ways: Players take no chances on Rogers Centre turf in uninspiring soccer friendly,” in The Toronto Sun, May 26, 2010, available at http://www.torontosun.com/sports/soccer/2010/05/26/14090391-torsun.html
[No. 46] Earthquake’s midfielder bothered by back-to-back play on turf, gets rest time. According to an item in the Mercury News 9May 29, 2010), the “Rookie Brad Ring will start tonight [May 29] in place of central midfielder Andre Luiz, whose knee is bothering him after two games on artificial grass, in New England (May 15) and Seattle (May 22).” Source: Elliott Almond, “San Jose Earthquakes goalie Joe Cannon is having fun again,” in Mercury News, May 29, 2010, available at http://www.mercurynews.com/sports/ci_15186591
[No. 45] Per-team injury rates in the National Football League are 27% higher for games played on artificial turf surface. According to a news story on ORTHO Super Site (April 30, 2010), available at http://www.orthosupersite.com/view.aspx?rid=63790 , a recent study “associates NFL players’ lower extremity injury rates with playing surface. Per-team injury rates in the National Football League were 27% higher for games played on a specific artificial turf surface vs. games played on natural grass during the 2002 to 2008 seasons, according to a recent study, which also found 88% higher ACL injury rates and 32% higher ankle eversion sprain rates for games played on the artificial turf.” This is according to the conclusions reached by the National Football League (NFL) Injury and Safety Panel published at the 2010 Annual Meeting of the AmericanAcademy of Orthopaedic Surgeon (AAOS). The surface evaluated in the study was from FieldTurf. The study “analyzed data from the NFL Injury Surveillance System for 1,961 games played over seven seasons for a total exposure of 3,222 team games. During that time, there were 1,105 knee sprains and 1,115 ankle sprains. Investigators then calculated the experimental injury rate for the artificial turf exposure and compared it to the control injury rate, those seen on natural grass, to determine the differences in injury rates by surface. They then used various means to validate their statistical findings.” “The differences in all injury rates that [the study] identified …. were statistically significantly different for the FieldTurf surface turf vs. grass.” The lead-investigator of the study “stated in a AAOS press release that, ‘Many NFL players prefer FieldTurf because it is softer and more comfortable to land on than other playing surfaces such as natural grass, but the more that NFL players play on this surface, the more they are prone to injury.” The study isHershman EB, Powell J, Bergfeld JA, et al., American professional football games played on FieldTurf have higher lower extremity injury rates. Paper #692 (presented at the 2010 Annual Meeting of the AmericanAcademy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. March 9-13, 2010, New Orleans). Seehttp://www.synturf.org/health.html (Item No. 41).
[No. 44] UCLA cornerback Sermons breaks leg; turf may have been the culprit. According to a news report in The Orange County Register (April 3, 2010), “What started as an upbeat day of practice for the UCLA football team – its first of the spring with pads – ended with bad news. Cornerback Brandon Sermons broke his left leg midway through the practice session.” “Sermons’ injury occurred on the artificial turf side of the practice field. Several players have been recently injured on that side of the field as opposed to the side with the grass.” “The injury occurred when Sermons tried to make a quick cut on a pass-coverage drill. His left foot got caught either on the turf or entangled with the receiver.” “Offensive lineman Nick Ekbatani missed most of last season after suffering a knee injury on the artificial surface. Micah Kia missed the entire season after injuring his knee on the same practice surface. Defensive end Reggie Stokes tore cartilage in his right knee and missed a big part of last season.” But UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel “doesn’t think the turf is an issue.” “Teammate Aaron Hester, who broke his leg in the first game of 2009, thought Sermons’ foot got caught on the turf but figures all of that will be sorted out later. His main concern was for Sermons’ well-being.” Source: Al Balderas, “UCLA football: Sermons breaks left leg,” in The Orange County Register (April 3, 2010), available at http://ucla.freedomblogging.com/2010/04/03/ucla-football-sermons-breaks-left-leg/13439/ .
[No. 43] AmericanAcademy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: “Artificial Turf Injuries Still More Likely in NFL.” An article on MedPage Today (March 15, 2010) reported on Hershman E, et al “American professional football games played on FieldTurf have higher lower extremity injury rates” (AAOS 2010; Abstract 692), a paper that was submittedat the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons in New Orleans in March 2010 (see Item No. 41 below). According to Todd Neale, “AAOS: Artificial Turf Injuries Still More Likely in NFL,” on MedPage Today, March 15, 2010, reviewed by Zalman S. Agus, MD; Emeritus Professor University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Dorothy Caputo, MA, RN, BC-ADM, CDE, Nurse Planner – available at http://www.medpagetoday.com/MeetingCoverage/AAOS/19020 -- The Hershman Study found that “Players were 27% more likely to sustain a lower extremity injury when the game was played on artificial FieldTurf instead of the real thing (P<0.01), according to Elliott Hershman, MD, of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. More specifically, there was an 88% increased risk of an injury to the anterior cruciate ligament and a 32% increased risk of an eversion ankle sprain when playing on FieldTurf (P<0.01 for both). Hershman is chair of the NFL's Injury and Safety Panel. Hershman and his colleagues analyzed data from the NFL Injury Surveillance System for the 2002 to 2008 seasons. An injury had to involve removal of the player from the game or loss of at least one participation day to be included in the study. The rate of lower extremity injuries was significantly higher for games played on FieldTurf -- 1.79 versus 1.40 injuries per team-game. Hershman acknowledged that the analysis was unable to control for other possibly contributing factors, such as the players' footwear.”
[No. 42] Wayland, Mass.: More injuries on artificial turf. The following item is from http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waylandvotersnetwork/message/415 . It was posted on the site by Tom Sciacca on March 21, 2010. Mr. Tom Sciacca is the author of “The Thermal Physics of Artificial Turf,” http://www.synturf.org/sciaccaheatstudy.html (January 1, 2008). He is a retired electrical engineer, whose professional work included design of computerized data acquisition systems used for precision temperature measurements, using thermal physics extensively in his circuit and systems design work. He holds a patent for a novel home heating system. A graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he is a former conservation commissioner for the Town of Wayland, Mass.
Subject: WVN # 342: Wayland turf type linked to pro football injuries
Dear Wayland Voter,
The kind of artificial surface used on Wayland's high school playing field has been implicated in excess National Football League injuries.
Also in this newsletter: The town's website has won an award for making government information available to the public.
On March 12 the Associated Press reported an NFL study showing higher rates of leg injuries on FieldTurf, the brand used on Wayland's field, than on grass fields. The rate of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries was 88 percent higher , the study said. Ankle sprains were 32 percent higher.
Dr. Elliot Hershman, a Jets team orthopedist, noted that the NFL research may not apply to lower levels of football or to other sports.
But data from the WaylandHigh School athletic department shows a large number of knee, leg, and ankle injuries after the turf field was installed. In fact, an ACL injury occurred on Sept.19, 2007, only four days after the field was first opened. The injured student took more than a year and surgery to recover. Another student received an ACL injury later in that same short season. Both occurred while playing football.
The following spring, lower limb injuries included two ankle sprains and two quadriceps strains. These all occurred while playing lacrosse. Both boys and girls were injured.
In the fall of 2008 there were two ACL injuries. One was during football practice and the other from girls' soccer. In addition, a field hockey goalie suffered a medial collateral ligament strain. There were three ankle injuries, one a fracture. Also, a soccer player suffered a hip strain and another child suffered a back injury.
The spring of 2009 saw many fewer injuries, including only one ankle sprain. And the fall brought only one ankle sprain and one knee contusion.
But 2009 also brought seven concussions. This is a type of injury that turf field manufacturers and proponents often claim is less common on turf fields, compensating, they say, for any increase in leg injuries. In all, there were 13 concussions on the turf field in the 2-1/2 year period from fall of 2007 through fall of 2009. Concussions have been in the news lately as causing lifelong damage, including possible early onset dementia.
ACL injuries have also made the news recently, as possibly causing early onset of arthritis. "People who tear their ACL have a 50 to 75 percent chance of developing severe osteoarthritis in 10 to 20 years", says Dr. John Hardin, the chief science officer of the Arthritis Foundation, quoted in the Boston Globe. "Even though the orthopedic surgery is very effective in getting you back to playing your sport, it doesn't change your odds of developing severe osteoarthritis and we really don't know why."
Researchers have measured much higher stresses on a player's legs on artificial turf than on natural grass. As a player pivots, the plastic strands simulating grass "grab" his foot. Natural grass, on the other hand, tears and allows scraping of the underlying soil, absorbing energy in the process. The same tearing and scraping that protects players also leads to higher maintenance costs for natural grass; such costs are part of the rationale for conversion to artificial turf.
A number of other injuries were documented on the Wayland field during the period, including thumb fractures, neck strain, wrist fracture, an apparent episode of fainting, and a stroke. Very high temperatures, over 160 degrees Fahrenheit, have been measured on the field. Such temperatures could have led directly or indirectly to some of these injuries by affecting coordination or consciousness.
A request for comparable data from the period before the installation of the turf field resulted in only three seasons worth of information. In those three seasons only one ACL injury occurred. Seven lower body injuries were recorded. That compares to 18 lower body injuries on the turf field over five seasons. It is unclear if the number and types of games played per season pre- and post-turf were comparable.
There were six concussions in the three pre-turf seasons.
Outgoing Selectman Michael Tichnor cited Wayland's "first turf field" as one of the accomplishments of his six years as a selectman. Tichnor was the most prominent proponent of the field, pushing the Board of Selectmen to support the construction and fund part of the nearly $1 million cost with Community Preservation funds, which was later judged illegal in a court case involving a similar project in Newton. Department of Environmental Protection orders resulting from appeals to the turf field proposal resulted in over $100,000 of required drainage work charged to the water department, never reported to taxpayers but included in water fees.
When the plans to build the field were being debated in front of the DEP, Town Administrator Fred Turkington argued that completing the turf field was necessary to protect children's safety.
SynTurf.org Note: It is reasonable to conclude that turf fields are injuring players, tots and titans alike. Lawsuits over injuries are already a part of the picture. They may well increase, on individual basis. But the road to greater product safety will probably be the same as battle over tobacco products, asbestos and automobiles – class action suits. Some of the people hurt on turf will suffer much of their lives as a result of these injuries. Often a simple public records request is all that a person needs to obtain the injury records for the school fields. On lawsuits visit this sites page http://www.synturf.org/lawsuits.html and also check out Brian J. Duff, “Game Plan for a Successful Product Liability Action against Manufacturers of Artificial Turf,” in 5 Seton Hall Journal ofSports Law, vol. 5, 223-251 (1995), discussed in http://www.synturf.org/beckhamslament.html .
[No. 41]NFL Injury and Safety Panel: “Injuries are more common on artificial turf.” According to anews story by the Associate Press (March 11, 2010), “An NFL panel found that certain serious knee and ankle injuries happen more often in games played on the most popular brand of artificial turf than on grass. The league’s Injury and Safety Panel is presenting its study Friday [March 12, 2010] at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons in New Orleans.” “The report examined the 2002-08 NFL seasons, comparing games played on grass to those on FieldTurf. It found that the rate of anterior cruciate ligament injuries was 88 percent higher in FieldTurf games — a conclusion the manufacturer of the synthetic field hotly disputes.” “The panel has presented its findings to league owners, the NFL Players Association and companies that make artificial turf. The study has been submitted for publication.” “The panel started to notice a higher rate of injuries on the new turf in evaluating the data the NFL compiles each season, Once enough games had been played on the newer surfaces to do a scientific analysis, the panel found that ACL injuries and a more serious type of ankle sprain occurred at a higher rate that is statistically significant.” “The rate for the ankle sprains was 32 percent higher on FieldTurf than on grass. MCL injuries and a less serious type of ankle sprain also happened more frequently, but the difference was not statistically significant.” “FieldTurf president Eric Daliere argues that the panel's methods are faulty and cites research by Montana State professor Michael Meyers that has been published in The American Journal of Sports Medicine. Meyers' work, though, has only looked at high school and college football, and not the NFL. FieldTurf paid for Meyers’ recent study that found lower overall injury rates for college games played on the surface.” Source: Rachel Cohen and Barry Wilner, “NFL panel finds some injuries more common on turf,” Associated Press, March 11, 2010, available at http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hDn9hI92kotimLtxmGJrb2lcSCzgD9ECT5HG0 . Click here for pdf version.
For the NFL Player Association surveys of playing surfaces, see
SynTurf.org Note: Playing surface are no different than floors of factories – they are the environment where the workers (players) toil, labor. The obsession with installing these plastic and crumb-rubber/sand infill playing surfaces lies entirely with management (owners) who ultimately reap the pecuniary gain from engendering the health and careers of the players. The same can be said of the municipalities and schools that promote play on these surfaces. The question then is whether players of all ages are worth real grass.
[No. 40] More on concussions: The turf factor. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. February 21, 2010. The Februaury 14, 2010, edition of CBSSports.com carried an article by Matt Rybaltowski, entitled “Young player helps turn trauma into action on concussions.” It is available http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/story/12928497/young-player-helps-turn-trauma-into-action-on-concussions . It is a long and well research piece on concussion among football players of all ages – and what is being done at all levels – government to research – to understand the phenomenon and prevent it from getting worse, hoping to reduce the risk of an injury that can leave athletes cognitively challenged and physically debilitated. Here are a few excerpts from the article:
Although the frequency of catastrophic football-related injuries resulting in major cognitive impairment, paralysis or even death has declined drastically over the past several decades, concussions in youth football still remain a serious concern. As players become bigger and the game has become faster, coaches on the whole still lack the requisite education to properly deal with a concussed athlete. At the same time, a dearth of on-site certified athletic trainers and poor funding in youth football has helped create an environment so violent that Houston Texans tackle Chester Pitts promises to find a less harmful sport for his three-year-old son Champ.
[Dr. Dawn Comstock, an associate professor at The Center For Injury Research and Policy at Ohio State University's Nationwide Children's Hospital] said the misreporting of concussions is a two-pronged issue that she attributes to the lack of awareness among some parents, coaches and athletes in combination with the culture of machismo prevalent among teenagers in the sport for decades. With potential college scholarships on the line and pride at stake, often the last thing a youth football player wants to do is leave a game. It might explain why Comstock's research found that 15.8 percent of high school players returned to a game last season after experiencing a concussion that resulted in a loss of consciousness.
One factor commonly ignored when evaluating concussion rates in football is the surface of play. Tom Bainter, the coach of BothellHigh School just outside Seattle, said there were six concussions in his program in 2005, the last season before the school tore up a worn artificial turf field. The worst occurred when a freshman linebacker lowered his shoulder during a hit and slammed his head against the turf, experiencing a “double hit,” as his helmet bounced back up. The linebacker missed several weeks of school and needed to be escorted through the hallways to locate his classes when he first returned. Bothell has not had a player experience a concussion since.
Don Bollinger, president of Construction Services at ATG Sports, an athletic surfacing manufacturer that has installed turf fields on the high school and collegiate level since 1980, said there is a direct relationship between concussions and the amount of sand underneath a turf field. He said most of the surfaces constructed by his company contain an all-rubber infill that unlike sand does not compact and provides a softer surface.
The company, he said, strives to create a surface safer than natural grass. Playing surfaces, he added, are given a G-Max rating that tests its softness, or the amount of shock your brain receives when it hits the ground. Artificial turf fields with high contents of sand will produce G-Max ratings in excess of 200, comparable to the amount of force your head experiences when hitting a dashboard during a car accident. While there are still hundreds of artificial fields on the high school level that contain sand underneath, surfaces with all-rubber infill are considered much safer, Bollinger said.
[No. 39] Rugby coach: “artificial turf beats the hell out of you.” The Witter Rugby Field is located at the Memorial Stadium, on the campus of the University of California in Berkley. The coach of the Cal Rugby team (the Bears) is one Jack Clark. Following this March (2010), the field will be shut down for renovation until 2013 or 2014. According to a news story in The Daily Californian (February 9, 2010), “What many call the ‘best grass in Berkeley’ will be torn out and replaced with artificial turf to accommodate practices for football and lacrosse. ‘Playing on artificial turf beats the hell out of you,’ said Clark. ‘Even the newest generations of turf are not appropriate for rugby.’ Watching the field that you built being paved over is tough. Not being able to play at home is worse.” For more on this story, go to Gabriel Baumgaertner, “At Wit's End,” in The Daily Californian, February 9, 2010, available at http://www.dailycal.org/article/108154/at_wit_s_end .
[No. 38] Hospital for Special Surgery: Cleat/artificial turf combination most likely to result in ACL injury. Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City (www.hss.edu) is a world leader in orthopedics, ranking 2nd in the United States. In a recent published study (January 2010), the investigators at HSSfound that “Athletes put less strain on their anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) while making a cut on a natural grass surface while wearing a cleat.” The investigators “tested the strain placed on the ACL of four different shoe-surface interactions: Astroturf/turf shoe, modern playing turf/turf shoe, modern turf/cleat, and natural grass/cleat.” Available at http://www.hss.edu/newsroom_cleat-grass-acl.asp (and here), here are an excerpt from HSS Press release (dated January 20, 2010 – Contact person: Phyllis Fisher, fisherp@)hss.edu – 2121-606-1197):
"It appears that a similar cut made on four different surfaces, the best strain profile is in grass/cleat combinations," said Mark Drakos, M.D., formerly an orthopedic fellow in the Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service at HSS. "So, there is less force occurring at your ligament for the same cut on that particular surface using this model."
He added that the study investigated noncontact injuries. "These are injuries where an athlete plants his or her foot while making a cut and blows out his or her knee," Dr. Drakos said. "The reason that I think this is so interesting is because there are still environmental factors, which have yet to be optimized. We don't know all the science behind why ACL injuries may be more common on turf than on grass. This study starts developing some of the science behind that, so that it can be looked at more closely because, at the end of the day, I think we need to optimize some of those environmental factors."
Previous studies have suggested that increased traction at the shoe-surface interface may increase the risk of sustaining an ACL injury. While the majority of studies reveal that ACL injuries are more likely to occur on artificial turf, there are some studies that have shown that injuries occur more frequently on grass fields. So, investigators have concluded that confounding factors, such as weather and footwear, must play a role in injuries. Some investigators have constructed models to test how the shoe-surface interface impacts loading conditions at the level of the foot, but no studies have investigated how the interface directly impacts the knee.
To fill this knowledge gap, investigators at HSS used a cadaveric model to test various shoe-surface interactions; they used the lower extremities (knee, foot, and ankle) from eight cadavers. One at a time, each specimen was positioned in a box-like structure, rigged to be in a standing position. The knee was positioned at a 30 degree angle, the flexion angle where the anterior cruciate ligament is most sensitive to strain. Investigators constructed an apparatus that placed weight on the leg, to simulate the weight of a body. Underneath the foot was a turf box that housed whatever turf they wanted to test and underneath the turf box, they placed a force plate that registered how much load was being placed on the shoe-surface interface. A lazy Susan was placed underneath the force plate that allowed the force plate and turf box to rotate. In this way, researchers could simulate a cut or a person pivoting in, for example, a soccer game.
"Our model looks at how forces travel up the kinetic chain, and that is something that should be looked at more closely, meaning you can't just look at the knee injuries by looking at the knee in isolation," Dr. Drakos said.
The investigators found that the natural grass/cleat combination placed a statistically lower maximum strain on the leg than any of the remaining three groups. All other combinations placed a greater amount of strain compared to the natural/grass cleat combination. The Astroturf shoe was 80.2 percent greater, modern playing turf/turf shoe was 47.5 percent greater, and the modern playing turf/cleat was 45.1 percent greater.
"As a former football player. I was always curious about why I was more sore after playing on artificial surfaces than playing on grass, and I wanted to find out the reasons behind that using a biomechanical model," Dr. Drakos said. "There are basically 200,000 ACL injuries every year in the United States alone and this [type of playing field and type of shoe] is an environmental factor which has been shown to play a role in injury, but has yet to be optimized. I think it is a scenario that deserves attention and further research."
Astroturf can be thought of as a carpet with ½ inch fibers on a 5 millimeter foam pad. The newer, modern playing turf consists of two inched fibers with a crumb rubber infill, three pounds of infill per square foot of turf. Investigators used fresh Kentucky bluegrass sod for the natural grass samples.
[No. 37] Another NFL career in limbo, turf takes another toll. O’Brien Schofield is a senior at the University of Wisconsin. He is a defensive tackle. On January 25, 2010, his NFL prospects dimmed when reportedly he managed to tear his anterior cruciate ligament during practice for the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama (January 30, 2010). According to e news report on Madison.com (January 25, 2010), “Schofield got his cleat caught in the artificial turf when locked in 1-on-1 drills with mammoth Massachusetts offensive tackle Vladimir Ducasse, whose leg then hit Schofield's while it was planted.” Source: “Schofield tears ACL in Senior Bowl practice,” on Madison.com, January 25, 2010, available at http://host.madison.com/sports/college/football/article_6d752568-0a2c-11df-85ee-001cc4c002e0.html .
[No. 36] Yes, turf can be an injury-causing hard surface, leading to head injury.Last November (2009) we reported on Matt Blea’s ordeal (http://www.synturf.org/health.html (Item No. 32). As the discussion about concussions among NFL players goes on unabated, Matt Blea’s predicament serves as a constant reminder that concussion and head injuries among athletes knows no age group. Our high school athletes are equally imperiled, especially in an age where greater traction of footwear and greater mass of players combine to produce greater speeds and less forgiving collisions – player on player or player onto the playing surface. One of the selling points of artificial turf fields is that the surface is soft – perhaps so, but how long does that softness last as the crumb rubber compacts or altogether migrates off the field leaving behind a hardened surface? In a recent news item about Matt Blea, we came across this in the description of the play that sent him to the hospital with a career-ending head injury: “He doesn't remember banging his helmet on the artificial turf, or getting up and wobbling toward the sideline before collapsing. Or his father, an assistant coach, pleading with him, ‘Don't give up! Stay with us!’ Or the 2½-hour surgery at ValleyMedicalCenter that saved his life.” For more of this news item, pleas see Tom Fitzgerald, “Teen football player upbeat after near-fatal head injury: Player suffers concussion after hitting ground,” in San Francisco Chronicle (The Herald - MontereyCounty,January 28, 2010, available at http://www.montereyherald.com/health/ci_14285120 .
[No. 35] Want to save your sports career? Get off the artificial turf. According to an article in the Chicago Sun Times, January 7, 2010, playing on grass saved the career of the outfielder Andre Dawson, former Chicago Cub, one-time Montreal Expo, one-time Boston red Sox and one-time Florida Marlin. Dawson will be enshrined July 25 in Cooperstown, N.Y. Here are experts from the article:
Dawson endured knee pain after playing 10 years on the artificial turf in Montreal. He had to deal with long hours of treatment before and after games. And he had to deal with the belittling era of collusion by baseball owners that drove him from the Expos as a free agent and into a blank contract offer handed to Cubs general manager Dallas Green in 1987. He signed for the paltry sum of $500,000.
''I was sticking my neck out,'' Dawson said Wednesday. ''They made me [a low offer] to get me to turn it down. But money wasn't the issue.''
Continuing to play was his issue. Dawson said playing on natural grass saved his career.
''Chicago, for me, gave me new life, playing on the natural surface after Montreal and being in a major market with a huge fan base that really understood the game. It allowed me to relax and enjoy the game. The game was fun again.''
[No. 34] KPHO (CBS): Athletes & Experts say turf can lead to real pain. According to a news report on KHPO.com (CBS 5 News, Phoenix, Arizona), January 14, 2010,“Despite the growing popularity of artificial turf, athletes and physical therapists say the fake grass could lead to more injuries on the field.” Here is the rest of the article:
Michael Branson, a physical therapist and owner of Cor Clinic in Scottsdale, said although there are not conclusive statistics that show a distinct increase in injury rates on artificial turf, common sense says if a surface is harder it could lead to more serious injuries.
"I would think you would see more injuries" with artificial turf, said Branson, who works with injured athletes.
He frequently sees problems connected with synthetic turf, such as "turf toe," which is essentially a sprain to the toe. It can be as difficult or more to recover from than a sprained ankle.
Nevertheless, Branson also said more serious injuries, like the tearing of the ACL, could arise.
"New artificial turf fields … basically have a higher level of holding onto the foot," he said. "There is a potential for more rotation injuries on artificial turf fields versus grass."
Zoe Smith, a soccer player and sophomore student at ChaparralHigh School in Scottsdale, said she prefers playing on natural grass. The 16-year-old has fallen on synthetic turf many times, and she said it changes how she plays.
"In practices if I'm not wearing my sliders or something, I definitely … would hold back because … it kills to fall on turf if you fall the wrong way," Zoe said.
Branson said that, despite seeing injuries on both surfaces, he thinks that natural fields are "the way to go."
[No. 33] Turf-boarding, a new form of torture! SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. December 12, 2009. So you think you have seen it all when it comes to the testosterone-driven sadistic behavior of a coach that masquerades as character-building tough-love? The coach is Mark Mangino of KansasUniversity, who is no longer. In November the athletic director at the university launched an investigation and by December 3, 2009, he agreed to resign.
According to a news story on KUSposrts.com (December 2, 2009), Cory Kipp played defensive lineman under Mangino in 2002 and ’03, when “he endured significant injuries to his hand as a result of a punishment carried out by the coach — a claim backed up by multiple former players, as well as photos taken shortly after the incident.” “It must have been the worst pain I’ve ever felt,” Kipp said. Here is what went down – verbatim form
According to Kipp, who started all 13 games at nose tackle during the ’03 season, the incident transpired as follows:
At the beginning of an afternoon workout in August of ’03, Mangino told Kipp to see him after practice to undergo punishment for the player’s failure to weigh-in earlier that day.
Kipp figured the punishment would be running “cross-fields” — something he and another former player said was a typical penalty for such an infraction — but was instead told to “bear-crawl” across the AstroTurf field at Memorial Stadium on his hands and feet.
Kipp began the crawl and, after moving several yards, felt a burning sensation in his hands. On multiple occasions, Kipp said, he stopped to complain that the turf was burning his hands — according to a University of Arkansas report, artificial playing surfaces have been documented at up to 199 degrees in temperature — but was ordered by Mangino, who was walking alongside the crawling player, to keep going.
By the time Kipp had finished, the skin near the heel of his hand had been completely seared, and photos provided to the Journal-World depict blistering and a sizable area of missing skin.
As a result of the injury, Kipp said, he was forced to undergo extensive treatment on his hand by then-head football trainer Carol Jarosky throughout the next three weeks, and although he said at least two members of the coaching staff were aware of the injury, he was told to practice through it.
“It wasn’t like because my hand was burned, I took a couple days off,” Kipp said. “They made me practice.”
Each day for three weeks, he said, Jarosky — who did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment — would treat and wrap the hand before workouts, using multiple layers of padding. But in the days immediately following the injury, Kipp said, he would return to the locker room after practice with the padding soaked through in blood.
Asked to examine the photos for his opinion on the severity of the damage, Birmingham, Ala.-based dermatologist Conway Huang confirmed the injury was either frictional or heat-related.
If heat-related, Huang wrote in an e-mail to the Journal-World, it was consistent with second-degree burns.
Since allegations arose two weeks ago that Mangino had regularly verbally and physically abused players, however, the coach has contended that he has done nothing inappropriate in his running of the program.
During his weekly radio show Nov. 19, for instance, he lashed out at former players and parents who had spoken out against him, insisting their allegations were an attempt at “15 minutes of fame.” Asked following Saturday’s 41-39 season-ending loss to Missouri whether he’d be willing to tone down his approach if implored to do so by university administrators, meanwhile, he responded, “You’re coming with the assumption that it needs toned down. How I coach is how I coach. Ninety-nine percent of the kids here appreciate it.”
Three other players contacted by the Journal-World confirmed the incident, including Sid Bachmann, a defensive tackle on the ’02 and ’03 Kansas teams, and former fullback Austine Nwabuisi.
“The thing was, that day, it was so hot on the field,” Bachmann said. “... We were running cross-fields, and it was so hot that the bottom of my feet were burning. I could feel the bottom of my feet — through my socks and my cleats, they were burning.”
Despite the severity of the incident, Kipp said an apology — or any sign of remorse on the part of Mangino — would have been enough to move on without any hard feelings.
“If he said that he was sorry, and he didn’t realize (the turf) was that hot, then I would have accepted his apology and that would have been that,” Kipp said. “But I never got that.”
What’s more, during a team meeting later that season, Kipp says Mangino brought the incident up in front of coaches and players — a story confirmed by Bachmann.
After pointing out a tackle that Kipp had missed during the previous week’s game, Mangino allegedly threatened to burn the player’s other hand if he ever missed a tackle again.
“I looked at some of the assistant coaches when (Mangino) said that, and they just had their heads down,” Bachmann said. “Our (defensive line) coach had his head down and he was just shaking his head.”
At the urging of his roommate, meanwhile, Kipp took photos of the damage following the incident and strongly considered approaching athletic director Lew Perkins before deciding against it due to fear of retribution — namely, worries over a potential decrease in playing time or the revocation of his scholarship.
Kipp, who now lives in California, said he was prompted to come forward after hearing Mangino’s denials of earlier allegations involving his mistreatment of players.
“I’m doing this,” Kipp said, “because I’ve got proof how horrible a coach he is.”
SynTurf.org Note: Surely, the coach was wrong to do what he did to Kipp and others. What is more appalling and hardly ever addressed in our sports culture is the players’ reluctance to complain in a timely fashion. This needs to stop – we should be educating our athletes in differences between discipline and abuse, and how tolerating abuse a hero does not make – it is the coward who dares not speak truth to power wherever and whenever. As parents we have the burden of raising children who expect respect and will not stand for mistreatment.
[No. 32] Fractured skull, concussion, turf toe and broken foot – on artificial turf. The world of professional football is presently focused on the effect of concussions on the long term health and quality of players’ life. One often hears about the weight of the athletes, strength, speed and other factors that contribute to the ferocity of the hits and spills and collisions. Nobody is focusing, as yet, on the contribution that the artificial turf fields may be making to the collisions that produce injury, concussions or otherwise. Traction, which allows players to cut and reverse course, also helps with acceleration, greater speed. You need not be a rocket scientist just yet to figure that given the same mass and greater acceleration always produces greater force.
According to a news item in San Jose Mercury News (November 11, 2009), “Matt [Blea], 16, a football player for San Jose High Academy, remained in critical condition Friday night [Nov. 11, 2009] at Valley Medical Center. His skull was fractured Thanksgiving Day while he competed in the annual ‘Big Bone’ Game against LincolnHigh School.” Here are a few excerpts from the report by Mark Purdy, “Fear of injury nags all parents of prep athletes,” in San Jose Mercury News (November 11, 2009), available at http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_13883441 (the url has a link to the video of the injury-producing hit):
“A new study, done by the University of Michigan, has reignited the head trauma issue. The study found that former NFL players are far more prone to brain diseases and damage than the general population. That's understandable. At the NFL level, the players are so huge, so fast. The physics of their collisions are frightening. But can it be just as bad for teenagers with smaller bodies and slower feet?
Matt Blea’s parents must have felt the same way Thursday. On video, the hit against him shows up as a hard blow, but not devastating. It happens on a pass play. Matt is running downfield as a receiver. He turns and looks back for the ball. A player from Lincoln steps in front of Matt and makes an interception.” “Then, less than a second later, another player from Lincoln smacks Matt solidly in the left shoulder as he is still looking upfield. The blindside hit knocks Matt off his feet. He falls backward. His shoulders hit the turf along with the back of his helmet, which bounces with a snap off the artificial grass. Matt rises to one knee, stands, wobbles a few steps to the sideline and then collapses. Then the awfulness begins. Ending with an ambulance ride.”
Ryan Wolfe plays football for the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. According to a news report in Las Vegas Review Journal (November 21, 2009), “Wolfe’s final season came to a close Friday [Nov. 18, 2009] after it was determined he broke a bone in his left foot during Wednesday’s practice at Rebel Park. He is expected to have surgery sometime next week and begin a rehabilitation program that will last eight to 12 weeks, after which he will be on crutches for up to six weeks, according to UNLV.” According to Rebels coach Mike Sanford, while working on his punt returns, “Wolfe fielded a punt and caught his foot in a seam in the artificial turf at the team's on-campus practice facility.” Source: Jeff Wolf, “Wolfe’s UNLV career ended by broken foot,” in Las Vegas Review-Journal, November 21, 2009, available at http://www.lvrj.com/sports/wolfes-unlv-career-ended-by-broken-foot-70690597.html .
According to a news report by 11 Alive News (November 30, 2009), an NBC affiliate in the Atlanta area, the Falcons’ Quarterback Matt Ryan would be sidelined for Sunday’s game [Dec. 6, 2009] against the Philadelphia Eagles. Ryan is reportedly suffering from an injury that is not uncommon among professional and college athletes: turf toe.” “It is usually caused by jamming the toe (this is because shoes often stick in artificial turf and cause a painful stubbing).” “[I]t hurts! The injured can have stiffness swelling and pain at the bottom of the big toe or the base.” For more of this story, go to Chris Sweigart and Fred Kalil, “Matt Ryan’s ‘Turf Toe’ Explained,” on 11 Alive, November 30, 2009, available at http://www.11alive.com/news/national/story.aspx?storyid=138221&catid=5 .
A: Turf toe is a painful condition at the base of the big toe, located at the ball of the foot. It involves a sprain of the big toe metatarsophalangeal joint.
Q: What causes the condition?
A: The condition is caused by forced hyperextension (or bending back) of the big toe. This forced hyperextension leads to varying degrees of disruption of the soft tissues on the undersurface of the joint.
Q: Who gets turf toe?
A: Turf toe typically occurs in sports that require planting of the foot, such as football or soccer. It commonly occurs in the running back who has another player land on the planted foot, causing the big toe to bend back excessively. The name "turf toe" comes from the fact that the injury is especially common among athletes who play on hard, artificial turf.
Q: What symptoms might patients experience?
A: The athlete may experience pain, swelling, discomfort and painful movement at the base of the big toe. In addition, the athlete may report increased pain with any attempt to push off with the involved foot.
Q: When should a doctor be seen?
A: Any athlete with suspected turf toe should be evaluated by a physician. X-rays of the big toe should be obtained to rule out a fracture or joint dislocation.
Q: How is turf toe treated?
A: Treatment depends on the severity of the injury. All injuries are initially treated with ice, compression, elevation and anti-inflammatory medications. Mild injuries may be treated by taping the big toe and/or placing a rigid orthotic into the insole of the shoe. Moderate to severe injuries may also require a period of activity restriction, use of crutches and not bearing weight on the affected foot. Surgery is rarely necessary for the acute turf toe injury.
Q: How long does recovery take?
A: With a mild injury, the athlete may be able to return to play after a brief period of rest and taping of the big toe. For a moderate injury, it is usually necessary to refrain from athletic participation for two to three weeks. With severe injuries, the athlete may be unable to return to sports for the remainder of the season. A severe injury may take up to six weeks to recover and return to play.
Q: Can anything be done to prevent turf toe?
A: Athletes who wear lightweight, flexible shoes and play on hard playing surfaces are at risk of developing turf toe. In addition, athletes who have stiffness in the big toe joint may be predisposed to injury. Wearing shoes with a stiff sole or insert, playing sports on natural grass, and increasing the flexibility of the big toe joint may reduce the frequency and magnitude of this potentially career-ending injury.
[No. 31]Hospital for Special Surgery (New York City) Study: Artificial turf surface produces most strain in ACL. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. October 11, 2009. This past August we reported ona study entitled The effects of various infills, fibre structures, and shoe designs on generating rotational traction on an artificial surface, which found that the highest torques were associated with the cryogenic SBR infill. This infill consists of fine crumb rubber particles capable of packing into a dense structure thought to increase a cleated shoe’s resistance to rotation. The lowest torques were associated with the extruded infill, a larger rounded cylindrical particle made of TPE, incapable of packing as tight as the cryogenically processed infill. it is generally accepted that excessive rotational friction results in high forces being transmitted to vulnerable anatomic structures which may then precipitate ankle and knee injuries. Seehttp://www.synturf.org/health.htm (Item No. 28).
Now comes study that highlights with greater precision the relationship between shoe-surface interface and ACL strains. Entitled The Effect of the Shoe–Surface Interface in the Development of Anterior Cruciate Ligament Strain, the study is the work of medical practitioners at New York City’s Hospital for Special Surgery: Mark C. Drakos (MD),Howard Hillstrom (PhD), James E. Voos (MD), Anna N. Miller(MD), Andrew P. Kraszewski(BS), Thomas L. Wickiewicz (MD), Russell F. Warren (MD), Answorth A. Allen (MD), and Stephen J. O’Brien(MD, MBA). The study is published in the Hospital for Special Surgery Journal, 2008 September; 4(2): 188–190, and is available at http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=2553173&tool=pmcentrez or
Introduction: The shoe–surface interface has been implicated as a possible risk factor for anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries; however, the relationship between ACL strain and the shoe–surface interface has yet to be quantified. The purpose of this study is to develop a biomechanical cadaveric model to evaluate the effect of various shoe–surface interfaces on ACL strain. We hypothesize that there will be a significant difference in ACL strain between different shoe–surface combinations when a standardized rotational moment (a simulated cutting movement) is applied to an axially loaded lower extremity.
Results: The preliminary trials confirmed a linear relationship between strain and both the moment and the axial force for our testing configuration. The average Lachman examination produced a strain of 4.33 (SD±1.72). In the experimental trials, the average maximum strain was 3.90, 3.19, 3.14, and 2.16 for groups I–IV, respectively. Group IV had significantly less maximum strain (p<0.05) than each of the other groups.
Conclusion: This model can reproducibly create a detectable strain in the anteromedial bundle of the ACL in response to a given axial load and internal rotation moment. Within the elastic range of the stress–strain curve, the amount of strain in the ACL appears to be affected by the shoe–surface interface. Specifically, the natural grass and cleat combination produced less strain in the ACL than the Field Turf–cleat, FieldTurf–turf shoe, and Astroturf–turf shoe combinations for a given axial load and moment.
[No. 30] Seahawks WR back after ACL injury on artificial turf. According to a news report in Seattle Times (Septemebr 13, 2009), the Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Nate Burleson “suffered a season-ending injury when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on a rain-slicked, synthetic field in Buffalo during a 34-10 loss [last season].” Source: Percy Allen, “Nate Burleson shows he's back after knee injury,” in Seattle Times, September 13, 2009, available at http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/seahawks/2009860310_hawkside14.html
[No. 29] Honolulu, Hawaii: An epidemic of cuts and scrapes from the artificial turf field at UH. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. September 13, 2009. The following story would typically get filed under “Maintenance/Replacement” because of the physical condition of the artificial turf field. It is the effect of the worn out artificial turf field at University of Hawaii on the athletes that has landed this story on the “Health” page. The story is Stephen Tsai, “Warriors stinging from stadium FieldTurf cuts,” in The Honolulu Advertiser, September 8, 2009, available at http://sports.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/20090908/SPORTS0201/909080338&template=UHSports/Warriors+stinging+from+stadium+FieldTurf+cuts or click here.The following is a reprint of the story:
There is a 36-day break between last Friday's season opener and the Hawai'i football team's next home game.
That might be enough time for the FieldTurf-induced scrapes to heal.
Several Warriors noticed that the 6-year-old FieldTurf, installed in 2003 as part of the requirements for keeping the Pro Bowl in Hawai'i, no longer offers a soft cushion. The "blades" are worn down, and the paint coating, several Warriors noticed, provides a rough surface.
"It's not very forgiving," said UH quarterback Greg Alexander, his left shin covered with salami-colored abrasions. "It feels like you're playing on concrete sometimes."
Cornerback Jeramy Bryant did not work out Sunday because of a "deep incision" on his right leg caused after he slid on the FieldTurf. He said the cut might require a couple of stitches.
Left slotback Greg Salas' right forearms also were marked with cuts.
"The turf is hard," Salas said. "It hurts when you get tackled on it. ... It was that way last year. I've always had scabs (from turf burns). They never go away because I always rip them off in games when I get tackled."
On the plus side, the turf offers good traction, helping increase a player's speed. The downside, defensive end Paipai Falemalu said, is the FieldTurf feels like "carpet. It doesn't give too much."
Falemalu's knees were covered with abrasions.
UH head coach Greg McMackin said he noticed there were more reports of turf-related cuts.
"I don't know if it's just worn down," McMackin said. "It does seem a little thinner than last year. I have no answers."
Regardless of the condition, Alexander said: "You can't do anything about it now. It's football. You can't complain. If you fall down, you're going to get scraped. Whatever. You have to keep playing and not worry about it."
McMackin said he was told a new artificial turf will be installed next year.
"I know (stadium manager) Scott Chan and his staff do a great job, and they've got plans in the future," McMackin said. "Both teams have to play on it. Nobody has an advantage."
[No. 28] MSU Study: Infill and fiber spacing in artificial turf fields are factors in lower extremity injuries. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. August 9, 2009. A little known research paper by a group of biomechanical researchers at Michigan State University may have found the answer to why professional athletes disdain playing on artificial turf fields, with so many of them in NFL annual surveys believing that artificial turf fields injures them more than natural grass.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of infill material and fibre structure on the rotational traction associated with American football shoes on infill-based artificial surfaces. A mobile testing apparatus with a compliant ankle was used to apply rotations and measure the torque produced at the football shoe–surface interface.
The research study is by Mark R.Villwock, Eric G. Meyer, John W. Powell, Amy J. Fouty, and Roger C. Haut and it is entitled “Football playing Surface components may affect lower extremity injury risk.” The study was presented at the 2008 North American Conference on Biomechanics, August 5-9, Ann Arbor, MI (http://www.x-cdtech.com/nacob/Session5.html). Funded by a grant from the NFL Charities Foundation, the study was published as The effects of various infills, fibre structures, and shoe designs on generating rotational traction on an artificial surface, Journal Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part P: Journal of Sports Engineering and Technology, Vol. 223, No. 1 (2009), pp. 11-19.
Injuries to the lower extremity are among the most frequent injuries in all levels of sports and often account for more than 50% of reported injuries (Fernandez et al., 2007). While translational friction is necessary for high-level performance during any athletic contest, it is generally accepted that excessive rotational friction results in high forces being transmitted to vulnerable anatomic structures which may then precipitate ankle and knee injuries.
In the current study a mobile testing apparatus was developed to measure the torque produced at the shoe/surface interface on sixteen surface systems. It was hypothesized that the size and structure of the infill would affect the rotational resistance of cleated shoes.
Infill material, fibre structure, and shoe design were all found to significantly affect rotational traction. The cryogenically processed styrene–butadiene rubber (SBR) infill yielded significantly higher peak torques than the ambient ground SBR and extruded thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) infills. An artificial surface with a nylon root zone yielded significantly lower peak torques than similar fibre surfaces without a nylon root zone. The size of infill particles and the presence of a nylon root zone may influence the compactness of the infill layer. These features may act to alter the amount of cleat contact with the infill, thereby influencing rotational traction. The amount of cleat contact with the surface may also be determined by the shoe design.
Peak torques were significantly affected by playing surface…. FieldTurf and the native soil natural grass system produced significantly different torques than all other surfaces. This was in agreement with the trend in a comparable study performed by Livesay et al (2006). In the … analyses, all three infills were found to be
significantly different from one another. The highest torques were associated with the cryogenic SBR infill. This infill consisted of fine crumb rubber particles capable of packing into a dense structure thought to increase a cleated shoe’s resistance to rotation. The lowest torques were associated with the extruded infill, a larger rounded cylindrical particle made of TPE, incapable of packing as tight as the cryogenically processed infill. The open structure of the extruded infill layer was thought to reduce the frictional resistance.
Generation of excessive torque at the shoesurface interface was a factor of both the infill particle size and fiber spacing. The peak torques measured in the current study exceed injury levels based on cadaveric studies (Hirsch and Lewis, 1965). However, muscle stiffness has been shown to protect the lower extremity at similar torques
(Shoemaker, 1988). Future studies using a more biofidelic ankle may help establish relationships between shoe-surface interfaces and the potential for ankle injury.
Additionally, epidemiological studies of shoe and surface injury rates will be important for validating the injury risk potential of various shoe-surface interfaces.
SynTurf.org Note: We are grateful to Christiaan Arends for pointing us to this significant find. SynTurf.org’s sense is that, in time, this study and like of it, as well a ground swell of complaint by the players’ associations, will debunk yet another myth spun by the purveyors of artificial turf fields that this surface is safer to play on than natural grass. In a variety of postings on this site, we have relayed analyses that point to the conclusion that prolonged play on artificial turf fields is likely to produce career ending injuries among the youth and young adult players, prematurely. In the process of obtaining information about this study, SynTurf.org, also learned that an artificial turf manufacturer had threatened one of the researchers of the above study with a lawsuit in order to quash the publication of the above study. We hope it to be not so.
[No. 27]Red Sox rest up Lowell in advance of play on turf. “And on the 51st day of the season, he’ll rest,” wrote the Boston Herald (May 26, 2009) about Mike Lowell, the Red Sox third basemen, who has started in the 44 of the first 45 season’s games so far but not without aches and pains. Against Minnesota Twins [on May 26], therefore, he did not play. “Now seems like the smart time to take a break. The Sox are in the middle of an unusual stretch that will have them play seven straight games on artificial turf, which can wear down even the healthiest bodies. So tonight, finally, Lowell rests.” Source: Sean McAdam, “Veteran 3B’s contributions pleasant surprise: Mike Lowell earns a day off,” in The Boston Herald, May 26, 2009, available at
[No. 26] Ouch: Those pesky crumb rubber bits that injure!This about one Forrest Smithkors, a programming director for a radio show, with some decent soccer creds. So recently did decided to try out for the Kansas City Wizards. This is a part of his narrative from the first day of tryouts: “At the end of the first game I started to feel some pain in the ball of my foot. I assumed I had some of the pellets from the synthetic grass in my sock that were scraping my foot. It got worse and by the end of my 3rd game I removed my shoe to find out I was developing blisters on both of my feet. During my 2 hour break I picked up some medical supplies and bandaged my foot as much as possible but it was just too painful to play to my full ability.” Source: “Local DJ trys out for the Kansas City Wizards,” in Topeka-Capital Journal, March 10, 2009, available at http://www.cjonline.com/interact/blog/david_streeter/2009-03-10/local_dj_trys_out_for_the_kansas_city_wizards .
[No. 25] Chronic traumatic encephalopathy in football players: Is there a connection to playing on artificial turf? On Wednesday, January 29, 2009, a team of researchers unveiled the results of the study of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) among Pop Warner and National Football league players. The disease is caused by multiple head injuries and afflicts individuals similarly to early-onset Alzheimer’s. In reporting on the story, The Boston Globe wrote, “In a discovery that is bound to reverberate through the nation's youth football community, clinical researchers reported yesterday that the brain of a recently deceased 18-year-old high school football player showed the earliest signs of an incurable debilitating disease caused by the kind of repetitive head trauma he experienced on the field. The discovery could provide new clues as to how much of a threat concussions are to athletes, including players from Pop Warner to the National Football League and those engaged in other contact sports, according to researchers at Boston University School of Medicine's Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy.” For more on this story, see Bob Hohler, “Warning sign on youth football head trauma: Player had hint of brain disease,” in The Boston Globe, January 28, 2009, available at http://www.boston.com/news/health/articles/2009/01/28/warning_sign_on_youth_football_head_trauma/ .
SynTurf.org Note: SynTurf.org contacted the Boston Globe reporter, Bob Hohler with this inquiry: “[D]id any of the researchers with whom you spoke about this (or written work) indicate if the type of the playing surface leads to greater incidence of concussions? I am raising this because artificial turf fields provide greater traction and torque to players who then end up on high-speed collisions. As you know, not all concussions suffered in the field of play comes from contact with the ground.” Hohler replied, “The playing surface came up with former NFL guys who played on that horrible artificial turf that seemed to be little more than a rug on top of concrete. That was about it.” SynTurf.org rejoined, “That would have been a legitimate concern because of the hard fall. The speed of play/force of collision in the new turf fields is just as critical as it would have been then.”
Maybe the time has come for leagues and schools, too, to start keeping records of injuries in reference to artificial turf fields. In a sports-crazed world with all of it love of stats, why this one has escaped scrutiny for this long?
[No. 24] Survey: NFL players prefer natural grass. On January 29, 2009, the National Football league Player Association released its 2008 Playing Surface Survey. http://www.nflplayers.com/user/video.aspx?pid=825&aid=0&sh=0&type=v. According to news stories, “NFL players overwhelming prefer grass to artificial turf, with 71.7 percent voting for a natural surface.” See, for example, Associated Press, “Top turf in NFL? Cards best, Steelers worst,” in The Evening Sun (HanoverPA), January 29, 2009.
SynTurf.org Note: Maybe the time has come for leagues and schools, too, to start keeping records of injuries in reference to artificial turf fields. In a sports-crazed world with all of it love of stats, why this one has escaped scrutiny for this long?
[No. 23] The “sticky turf” syndrome can cause severe ankle injury. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. January 11, 2009. One of the favorite charades put on by the proponents of artificial turf fields is to have a student athlete or parent to come up to the podium (in a cast and crutches if at all coincidental) and blame their ankle or knee injury on the school’s bad, bad and ill-maintained natural grass fields. A few weeks ago I was watching a legislator in a city near Boston rise in the well of the Aldermanic chamber and suggest that he was voting for artificial turf fields at a local high school because some years ago he twisted his ankle on those fields. Poor, baby! Well, here is a little story about the injury suffered by one Jon Cooper, OklahomaUniversity’s center and the All-Big 12 offensive lineman of the year. Cooper hurt his ankle in 2005 during a goal-line play when his foot was stuck on the artificial turf in Lubbock, Texas, and another player rolled on top of the ankle from the other side. He broke both ankle bones and tore every ligament. Ever since he has been trying get to 100%. In 2009 he was at 85 percent. Gee, Mr. Alderman, I guess you made out better than Cooper, eh? Of all the lame excuses to vote for artificial turf!
[No. 22] Ben Roethlisberger credits natural grass for staving off injury. According to a news article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (January 5, 2009), on Monday, January 5, 2009, “Ben Roethlisberger credited the giving grass surface for saving him from a more serious injury Dec[ember] 28 when his head bounced off it after Cleveland linebackers Willie McGinest and D'Qwell Jackson knocked him to the turf late in the first half.” And so, “That artificial turf the Steelers never installed at Heinz Field might have saved them a franchise quarterback. Or at least, saved him from a bigger headache.” The report quoted Steelers quarterback as saying, “I'm glad we weren't on FieldTurf. That grass – you know, the soft Heinz Field – might've helped a little bit. That whiplash is always a pain. If you ask any position player, when they hit that ground with the whiplash, it's going to hurt like crazy.” His arms went temporarily numb. “Yeah, I couldn't feel them,” he said. “They pricked me with a pin and I couldn't feel it. When you see the doctor look at the trainer with that look, it kind of scares you a little bit.” According to the report, “Heinz Field has a DDGrassMaster surface that is grass held in place by poly fibers. The surface was installed after last season, but not before artificial turf was seriously considered, particularly after the 3-0 ‘Muck Game’ victory against the winless Dolphins on Nov. 26, 2007. The Steelers installed grass sod on top of their surface this season after their Nov. 20 game against Cincinnati.” Ed Bouchette, “Big Ben enjoys homefield grass,” in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 5, 2009, available at http://www3.signonsandiego.com/stories/2009/jan/05/chargers-s6pitt/?chargers
[No. 21] Turf is the culprit in Mark Jones’s injury. The The News & Observer (Raleigh, North Carolina) reported on December 7, 2008,“The quadriceps in Carolina Panther’s kick returner’s left leg is noticeably smaller than his right quad -- a 1 1/2-inch difference in diameter.” The atrophy suffered by Mark Jones “is a visible reminder of the gruesome injury that threatened his career last season when he was a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.” “While returning a kickoff at Detroit's Ford Field on Oct. 21, 2007, a Lions defender pulled him down, yanking his body backward. His left foot got caught in the artificial turf, causing his patella tendon to rupture.” For more on this story go to Charles Chandler, “Talk about making return,” in The News & Observer, December 7, 2008, available at http://www.newsobserver.com/sports/story/1324376.html .
[No. 20] Washington, D.C.: Kehoe Field’s turf poses danger to student athletes. By Guive Mirfendereski, SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. October 24, 2008. According to the Voice (October 23, 2008) the turf at Georgetown University’s Kehoe Field is in dismal shape and poses danger to athletes. According to Walker Loetscher, “You’ll be in the midst of a great run down the left wing, or backpedaling toward the end zone to break up a game-winning touchdown pass, when one of them sneaks out of nowhere, grabs your leg, and twists. You’ll writhe on the ground for a minute, stand up, and try to walk the injury off. No such luck. Whether it’s a sprained ankle, pulled hammy, or twisted knee, you’ve been bested again by one of those tricky Kehoe specials—the bumpy irregularities that litter Georgetown’s only recreation field for student use.” For more of the article, go to Loetscher, Nasty turf burn,” in Voice, October 23, 2008, available at http://www.georgetownvoice.com/2008-10-23/sports/nasty-turf-burn or click here.
[No. 19] A primer on turf toe. In recent weeks turf toe has sidelined the USC Trojans running back Joe McKnight and the Ohio State’s running back Chris “Beanie” Wells. On October 10, 2008, Sports Blog Nation carried a piece by Paragon SC on the mechanics of turf toe. Entitled “Injury Clinic: The McNight Injury,” the piece is available at http://www.conquestchronicles.com/2008/10/17/636788/the-injury-clinic-the-mckn or click here. Turf toe is known as metatarsalphalangeal (MTP) joint sprain. It is a hyperdorsiflexion injury to the joint and connective tissue between the foot and the big toe. The injury usually results from a hyperflexion mechanism; the toe is bent to far upward. This can result from a hard push off on a rigid surface, having the toe forcibly flexed while being tackled, or by stopping short allowing the toe to jam in the toe box of the shoe. These mechanisms cause damage to the ligaments of the joint and the joint capsule. The prevalence of artificial turf fields seems to have increased the incidence of turf toe among athletes.
[No. 18]Poughkeepsie, NY: Injuries are common on artificial turf.On August 30, 2008, the Poughkeepsie Journal quoted Chris Campilii, owner of the Center for Physical Therapy in WappingersFalls,as saying “Things are faster and quicker on a turf field. This leads to more injuries. The speed of the game is much quicker. You make a cut and someone hits you, your foot sticks a little bit better. You'll get much less ligament injuries on natural grass fields.” He explained the mechanics of the injuries: “[Turf surface] causes more torque on the joints and the ligaments. Thus, you will see higher-speed injuries with more frequency.” And, therefore, “You'll definitely see more injuries.”
[No. 17]Illinois sports medicine physician explains down side of playing on turf.
Artificial field turf may have its advantages, but it's not all home runs and touchdowns. There are some downsides.
The surface is made from rubber, sand and a synthetic material that makes up the surface. As a result, turf can be hard on an athlete's skin. As athletes slide on artificial turf, their skin can sustain cuts, abrasions, or friction burns.
Dr. Geoffry Kuhlman, a sports medicine physician in Hinsdale [Illinois], said turf has more traction than natural grass. Thus, athletes playing on it may be more prone to muscle strains in their legs.
"When you're on turf, the foot doesn't rotate or slide the way it does on natural grass," Kuhlman said.
In addition, artificial turf requires periodic disinfection, as it has no natural process present to kill germs. Bacteria can grow on it.
Artificial turf also becomes hotter under the sun.
[No. 16]Bill Littlefield,Getting Played: The risks to children – particularly girls – in increasing competitive sports. The Boston Sunday Globe, July 27, 2008, Ideas section, p. K6. A Book Review of Tom Farrey’s Game Plan: The All-American Race to Make Champions of Our Children, andMichael Sokolove’s, Warrior Girls: Protecting Our Daughters Against the Injury Epidemic in Women’s Sports. Available on line at http://www.boston.com/ae/books/articles/2008/07/27/getting_played?mode=PF .
Bill Littlefield is the sports broadcast journalist at National Public Radio. His program is called “Only a Game.” In this book review, Littlefield also offers his own observations of the youth sports scene. In collegiate athletics, what used to be walk-ons at a time when the nation weighed less is replaced by recruitment. “As a result parents and coaches have been pushing children to specialize at younger and younger ages.”
SynTurf.org believes, the specialization of the wunderkind particularly in the suburban communities, has led to a culture that separates at an early age the “competition-minded” from “exercise-minded” and promotes the alienation of a large segment of the student population that turns away from sports (physical activity) because they are told or feel they do not or cannot measure up. Increasingly, they are relegated to Physical Education or gym classes for a few hours in a week. Who know, if this de-socialization of our youth at such an early age then does not result in depression, feeling of rejection and other disorders, including eating disorders (obesity).As more and more venues become less and less available for the “exercise-minded,” pickup games once in an unrestrictedpublic park too will soon become a thing of the past.
Littlefield highlights Tom Ferry’s assertion that there is “something structurally askewwith the whole setup” of youth sports in the United States, “home to the fattest children in the world,” in part because the system rewards “early bloomers, leaving the rest behind.”
Sokolove’s point is that in this culture, the way kids play sports is not particularly good for either sex. “For the girls, though, it is all too often disastrous.” This is because for a variety of reasons, writes Littlefield, “girls suffer more knee, back, nd head injuries than men playing the same sports. At the most competitive levels of soccer and basketball, girls and women suffer anterior cruciate ligament tears about eight times as often as men do.” Sokolove writes, “What does threaten women’s sports is that far too many girls and young women are leaving the playing field broken up and in pain.” “he makes the his case with statistics, interviews, and powerful stories about women who might have been stars if their knees hand’t exploded.,” writes Littlefield of Sokolove’s work. Sokolove suggest kids play several different sports, because “specialization means more stress through repetitive motion on the same developing muscles and joints.” “he encourages parents to resist the ‘bullying’ of coaches who argue that without a full time, year-around commitment. A 10-year old athlete will fall behind her peers.”
SynTurf.org believes turf fields are a part of that year-round or near-year-around programs and therefore promote the very culture that Ferry, Sokolove and Littlefieldagree is “askew.”
[No. 15] Jamaica’s under-17 women’s soccer team doctor says artificial turf increases rate of injuries. According to a news story in the Jamaica Observer, “Dr Mark Sanderson, team doctor on tour with Jamaica's Under-17 women's football [soccer] team, believes any move to popularise artificial turf in football will only serve to increase the rate of injuries to players.” In a Sporting World exclusive Sanderson, a medical doctor of 14 years, said the proposed study on incidents of injuries to players on artificial turf versus natural grass, is primarily for financial reasons as football nations seek ways of slashing field maintenance costs.” Sanderson said that pitches are made from waste rubber, while pointing that on a sunny day that's 35 degrees celsius in the ambient and on the pitch it might actually be 42 degrees celsius, which can cause several serious heat-related concerns for players…. Consequently, “youth players stand to suffer the most, and overall, players will more often than not perform below optimum levels.” Sanderson also rubbished the claim that third generation turf fields are virtually like natural grass. “Remember apart from the goalkeeper the rest of the players aren't well clothed, so there still is going to be a significant risk of them having burnt injuries. It's going to make the game less attractive, because players still complain about the bounce of the ball on the hard surface. Players tend to play more cautious on artificial turf because of the frequency and severity of injuries. Fans have difficulty adapting to the glare from this type of surface, which is taking something away from the game."
[No. 14] Connection between turf and concussion in female field players: a hypothesis. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. July 17, 2008. A recent news story in The Boston Globe reported that female athletes suffer more head injuries than males. The article described the concussion suffered by a University of Massachusetts’ midfielder when she went up for a header and was knocked off balance by the impact of another player’s head hitting hers. The article was focused on girls experiencing concussion at rates 27% more than boys in soccer, 66% in basketball and 80% in ice hockey. See Jordana Bieze Foster, “Female athletes suffer more head injuries than males,” The Boston Globe, July 14, 2008, Health/Science section, at page A7, available athttp://www.boston.com/news/science/articles/2008/07/14/female_athletes_suffer_more_head_injuries_than_males/ .
The article did not mention the surface or speed as a contributing factor to the concussion suffered by the midfielder. Nevertheless, here is however a hypothesis about the role of turf and speed in contributing to collisions that may result in concussion.
One of the characteristics of artificial turf fields is the superior, no-skid traction that artificial turf provides to the athlete, come rain or shine. That characteristic alone contributes to running speed. In a sport lie soccer, the athlete foot speed is further warranted be cause of the faster speed by which the ball moves on the turf surface. The faster the ball speed and faster players combined to generally speed up the game. It is, therefore, a matter of reasonable inference, collisions in soccer games that are played on turf fields are often unavoidable and with harder impact. It is SynTurf.rg’s view, while the size of the arena, athleticism and type of surface in ice hockey and basketball generate speed, which need not be the case in soccer. In girls’ soccer (as well as in boys), speed can be reduced if the game is played on natural grass. This especially should be the case for youth soccer.
[No. 13] Orthopedic surgeon: Athletes get hurt on turf as often as on grass. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. June 26, 2008. Dr. Craig McKirgan is an orthopedic surgeon with the Center for Orthopedics & Sports Medicine (COSM) in Indiana, Pennsylvania. According to a news story in Indiana Gazette, on Monday, June 23, 2008, McKirgan’s 45-minute PowerPoint presentation to the Indiana Area School Board showed “that athletes get hurt playing on artificial turf as often as they do playing on natural grass.”He also told the Board “that players have higher risks of contracting MRSA, a drug-resistant bacteria, from sitting in a whirlpool or sharing towels than they do from falling on artificial turf.” McKirgan said his PowerPoint presentation will be posted next week on his company's Web site, www.pacosm.com. Source: Chauncy Ross, “IASD: Prthopedic surgeon weighs in on turf issue,” in Indiana Gazette, June 24, 2008, available at http://online.indianagazette.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=30793&Itemid=52 .
[No. 12] Synthetic turf: A Question of Infection, a video clip (June 2008). Warning: strong content, may induce vomit. The following link will take you to the above-titled clip on YouTube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aK7oD3BpBDs. It is from sfparks.
[No. 11] Protecting users from heat and health hazards of turf fields. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. June 22, 2008. On June 19, 2008, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an advisory about lead in artificial turf fields. In practice, many municipalities have taken to advising players and parents along the lines recommended by the New Jersey Department of health and Senior Services – “[to] perform aggressive hand and body washing after playing on the field, and clothing used on the field should be washed separately.” The New Jersey Department of Health guidelines suggest restricting children under age 7 from using fields with high lead levels, watering down the surface to suppress dust and thoroughly washing hands, bodies and clothing after using the fields. When elevated level of lead forced the closure of the turf field at the CampHenry (Taegu, South Korea), Dr. (Maj.) Remington Nevin, of the 18th Medical Command’s preventive medicine section, stated “The field at CampHenry does pose a potential for exposure to lead, provided that children actually ingest whatever dust might come from degradation of that field. Lead should be avoided by adults but is more likely to cause health problems if ingested by children 6 years old or younger. The primary risk is to younger children prone to hand-to-mouth activities. Parents can minimize lead exposure to children by keeping shoes off while in the home, vacuuming with a HEPA filter, cleaning off dust, washing hands and encouraging proper hygiene.” Should such information be posted at the fields as well? The lead dust controversy that began in New Jersey may very well trigger a requirement by the insurance carriers to have municipalities post health signs at artificial turf fields.
The irony here is that turf facilities have a long list of installer/owner-recommended warnings about activities that could damage the carpet. Yet, so far, there has been very little movement on the part of public officials to require posting of health-related signage at artificial turf fields.
Prompted by a recent inquiry as to whether any turf field in the country has a “heat” warning about posting of heat signs at turf fields, SynTurf.org surveyed its readership for any heat or other health related posting at artificial turf fields. It would seem that there is only one such signage anywhere in the country: “Stay healthy: Wash your hands and any cuts, scrapes or burns after play,” reads the sign at South Sunset Playground, San Francisco, California.
In April 2008, SynTurf.org reported on two Massachusetts towns where public health officials were considering signs at turf fields that warned about the heat effect on the fields. “On hot, sunny days, artificial turf can reach turf ground temperatures up to 20 degrees hotter than black asphalt surfaces and/or up to 50 degrees hotter than natural turf. Please be aware that direct contact with these surfaces by you, your children or pets when the temperature is elevated may lead to contact skin burns and/or heat prostration. In addition due to the increased temperature in the over all field environment during these periods, coaches, players and participants are advised to keep fluids readily available and pay close attention to staying hydrated to avoid metabolic heat stress.” There has been no indication if caution overcame the unwillingness of the pols in of Wayland and Weston.
In annals of turf heat studies, the 2002 measurements by Frank & Williams at Brigham Young University is especially a propos because the study was triggered by complaints from the football coach, who reportedly too suffered blisters on his feet. The Utah Studysoon gave rise to more localized measurements and many of these from Missouri to New York City and Massachusetts have been featured on SynTurf.org. When it came to ascertaining practical health tips and sound field practices, it was all the more appropriate for SynTurf.org to see how they do things at BrighamYoungUniversity.
In a telephone conversation on June 16, 2008, Roy Peterman, director of grounds department (801-422-5410), stated there is no sign or written policy as such to warn players against elevated field temperatures. In the summer months, when the fields receive sunlight as the same angle and with equal severity of southern California, the fields are used 50 minutes at a time, with ten minutes set aside for players to rest and watering the fields. “We use an irrigation system that the supervisors can activate with the push of a button,” he said. The irrigation is necessary to keep the field temperature to below 120 degrees, he said. The university’s approach to combating the heating effect of the turf fields is helped by the fields being closed facilities, with no free play on the part of students or members of the public.
Peterman considers the proper maintenance of the fields as a greater preoccupation. “Contaminants is a problem with turf fields. You’ve got to maintain the fields. If you have leaves, for example, pathogens is a high possibility.” Another factor in both play and promotion of pathogen is humidity. If the area is humid that is one issue; then by watering the field the humidity goes up, he said. Another problem is the compaction of the field if not maintained properly. “This, Peterman said, “can result in juries.” Already, even on a well-maintained turf field, Peterman noted, last year there were 13 more injuries on artificial turf than on natural grass fields. “The turf is tight, it grabs the cleat when making a cut, and the bounce off the turf rebounds back to the knee and shins.”
In a municipal setting, Peterman said, “It is probably a good idea to put a sign warning about temperature and humidity,” to protect players.
 Erik Slavin (co-contributors Allison Batdorff and Travis J. Tritten), “Lead found at South Korea sports fields; CampHenry facility is closed,” in Stars & Stripes, June 22, 2008, available at http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=55691 (co-contributors to the article Allison Batdorff and Travis J. Tritten).
[No. 10] South African soccer legend Lucas Radebe cautions about artificial turf. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. June 10, 2008. The Republic of South Africa is the venue for the 2010 World Cup soccer games. In an effort to meet the demand for international class playing fields, a few new pitches are being readied.
On Sunday, June 8, 2008, the South African soccer legend Lucas Radebe was at hand to mark the opening of FNB Wadley Stadium in Pietermaritzburg. The venue has South Africa’s first full sized artificial turf field.
While there are reasons why artificial turf might make sense for the 2010 World Cup games in South Africa, Radebe, who played for and captained Leeds United in the 1998/99 season in England, nonetheless has concerns about artificial turf. He told SuperSport "I used to train on it (artificial turf) in England during my playing days and some of the guys used to complain about their ankles or knees hurting. It does and will affect the joints if a player or a team uses it everyday. I don't see a professional team using it everyday as a training ground or for matches on a weekly basis. It definitely is good for tournaments and games now and again, but not on a regular basis."
[No. 09]Argonauts’ running back injured by artificial turf. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. June 6, 2008. It is a very familiar sight at most public meetings that considers the installation of artificial turf fields – a youngsters takes the microphone and relates an episode that resulted in an ankle injury because of the deplorable conditions of the town’s natural grass field. The implication here is that artificial turf field will not cause injury or as many. This is a fallacious marketing point that the turf industry advances and the municipalities buy it with as much readiness as the notion that a turf field needs no maintenance.
The Argonauts are a Canadian Football League team based in Toronto, Ontario. Tyler Ebell is newly acquired running back on the Argonauts. According to a report in the TorontoStar, a few days ago, Ebell was “carted off the artificial turf … with a left ankle injury. The former UCLA and University of Texas El Paso back, who rushed for 650 yards on 124 carries last season, wasn't carrying the ball but went down mysteriously during a scrimmage. He was helped off the field, without putting weight on his left leg. After some attention on the sidelines, he was taken to the Argos' team doctor for an assessment…. It's believed Ebell caught a cleat in the turf. Ironically, the injury happened only two days after Stubler had said he was looking for tough running backs who could play 18 games and avoid the rash of injuries that hit the club last season.” To read more about this story, see Chris Zelkovich, “Ebell, expected to be the starter, catches clean in turf during practice and twists left ankle,” in TheStar.com, June 5, 2008, available athttp://www.thestar.com/Sports/article/437310.
[No. 08] Making of the artificial turf less injurious to athletes. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. May 13, 2008.
“[National Football League] trainers and physicians are looking to prevent some of the most common foot and ankle injuries among players, primarily high-ankle sprains and turf toe, an ailment involving joint tears, swelling and intense pain often linked to playing on artificial surfaces,” according to an Associated Press story that appeared in the International Herald Tribune,on May 10, 2008. See below for details.
One source of excellent information about the challenges that artificial turf field poses to an athlete’s health, safety and wellness is often the turf industries own efforts to make the artificial turf safer and less injurious.
According to the Herald Tribune, a mechanical engineer in Boise, Idaho, has built a machine that “could provide the [National Football League] with some of the most comprehensive information available on how and why turf-related injuries occur, and if changes in footwear or artificial turf could result in fewer injuries for NFL players.” Here are a few experts from the article:
Next month, an NFL Injury and Safety subcommittee will see the device for the first time.
League trainers and physicians are looking to prevent some of the most common foot and ankle injuries among players, primarily high-ankle sprains and turf toe, an ailment involving joint tears, swelling and intense pain often linked to playing on artificial surfaces.
Dr. Michael Coughlin, co-chairman of the NFL subcommittee on foot and ankle injuries, contends the new playing surfaces may create more of a risk for ankle and foot injuries.
"We have some preliminary information that leads us to believe that there may be a higher injury rate on the newer infill surfaces compared to grass," Coughlin said.
[No. 07 ] Is artificial turf especially cruel to female athletes? SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. April 15, 2008. In September 2007, SynTurf.org published a brief called “Beckham’s Lament” (http://www.synturf.org/beckhamslament.html). It explored the relationship between foot fixation injuries and artificial turf. These are injuries that result from damage to ligaments and joints because of the kind of speed, stops and cuts that an athlete can achieve because of the traction of the turf.
None of the athlete-related materials reported on SynTurf.org makes a distinction between male and female athletes. However, as it turns out for the most part the reporting has been from the male athletic perspective, especially professional soccer and football. That may well change, as we learn more about “Women athletes win[ning] equal time on injury list.” That is the title of an article by Judy Foreman for the Health/Science section of The Boston Globe (April 14, 2008), pages C1-C2, available at http://www.boston.com/news/health/articles/2008/04/14/women_athletes_win_equal_time_on_injury_list. The article does not discuss turf in particular, but does point out to the greater risk of injury in areas in which the female athlete is more vulnerable than a male athlete because of the difference their physiologies. SynTurf.org asks: If certain parts of the male anatomy takes a beating from playing on turf, would not playing on turf be more damaging to the same but weaker body part in a female?
Here are excerpts from the Foreman article that should answer the question: Is Artificial Turf Especially Cruel to Female Athletes?
According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, more than 3 million high school girls play sports. “But there's a dark side to this terrific news: The more girls and women play sports, the more they, like boys and men, get hurt. And - attention athletes, coaches, and parents - they get hurt in different ways.”
Basketball is “brutal on that most vulnerable part of the female athlete's anatomy: the knees.” “And even plain old running seems to be tougher on women's legs than on men's, though it's not clear why.”
“[A]thletic activities can cause different injuries in women and girls than in men and boys. Female athletes and their coaches should pay increased attention to the anatomical differences that put girls and women at disproportionate risks for certain injuries.”
“The sports injuries that seem to disproportionately affect women include:
- Tears in the ACL, or anterior cruciate ligament, in the knee, a problem that hits basketball and soccer players especially.
- Plantar fasciitis, in which activity can cause tiny tears in heel tissue.
- Compartment syndrome in runners, in which lower leg muscles get too tight for the surrounding space, causing severe pain.
- Shin splints in runners, in which repetitive stress can lead to pain and even fractures in the lower leg.
- Kneecap pain.
- Pain along the outside portion of the leg in the iliotibial band, between the knee and the hip, known as iliotibial band friction syndrome.”
“Women's knees are more vulnerable than men's because the "Q-angle" - the angle between the hip and the knee - is greater in women than in men. While wide hips are good for childbearing, they mean there is more stress on the knee in moves like landing from a jump and twisting. This torque can shred the ACL, a ligament that helps stabilize the knee. This is a major reason why female athletes have four times more ACL tears than men do, said Dr. George Theodore, a Red Sox team physician and sports medicine specialist at Massachusetts GeneralHospital.”
“Making matters worse for women's knees, especially among basketball players, is that women tend to ‘cut,’ or suddenly change direction, differently from men.” "There's more of a tendency for women to change direction on just one foot, maybe because of the width of the pelvis, while men often use two feet."
“Wider hips also mean that there may be more ‘pull’ on the kneecap, which can cause pain when running uphill. Kneecap cartilage also seems to wear down more in women than in men. And women's kneecaps slide around more from side to side, in part because women have more estrogen, which can make women's ligaments more flexible than men's.
“Fortunately, solutions exist for these problems. One is better coaching for females - to teach them how to run, jump, land, and twist safely. Another is orthotics, devices that can be put in shoes to minimize stress on knee, ankle, and hip joints. And, of course, everyone should use appropriate safety equipment, such as thicker mats for gymnasts, helmets for cyclists, and headgear in soccer, which obviously benefit men as well as women.”
[No. 06] MLS urged to go with natural grass. SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. March 4, 2008. In this morning’s Boston Globe (4 March, 2008, Sports section, page D8), Frank Dell’Apa stated that the Major league Soccer should not approve artificial turf for the new stadium that will be the home of the newly approved Philadelphia soccer franchise. The stadium will in Chester, Pennsylvania. See “Soccer Notes: Opportunity is there for someone to strike” (item subtitle: Grass is greener) available at http://www.boston.com/sports/articles/2008/03/04/opportunity_is_there_for_someone_to_strike/?page=2.
Dell’Apa reported that by next season 12 of the 14 current teams will be playing on grass fields, with New York and Real Salt Lake going with natural grass, “a trend that should be encouraged,” Dell’Apa wrote. The reason for this exhortation by Dell’Apa is quite clear to the fans of SynTurf.org and other advocates seeking to limit, regulate or outright ban artificial turf fields. Here is what Dell’Apa wrote:
Artificial turf has been significantly improved by recent technological advances, but it is still fake turf and simply does not compare favorably with real grass in so many ways. The only selling point for artificial turf is that maintenance costs are lower, especially in multi-use stadia. But these costs must be weighed against the cost of having to replace the artificial turf every five years or so; that savings is not going to be significant. If MLS wants to be cost-effective, there are better ways of doing so. The other problem is turf's effects on players, especially concerning lower-leg injuries. However, Dell’Apa also pointed out that “[t]here is a place for artificial turf in programs involving amateurs and young players, especially in the Northeast, where playing conditions are difficult. But professionals should not be expected to practice on artificial surfaces and play on them regularly.” SynTurf.org believes, artificial turf fields should have no place in amateur or youth sports. Bo group of enthusiast should have license to spoil the environment and place the public, young and old, in risk of being exposed to harmful substances that have been identified as part of artificial turf fields. Moreover, while the youth are resilient bunch, suffering lower-leg injuries at a young age may well either turn players away from the game or cripple a career far sooner.
The exposure of young vital organs to potentially harmful substances that turf fields contain may well result in far greater health complications. On the other hand, the ill effects of pesticides and fertilizers used on natural grass fields can be replaced with organic versions of both. Types of grass now exist that grow faster and in much more adverse climates than before. Meanwhile, it should be no secret, the artificial turf fields themselves require substantial amount of bactericide and fungicide and pesticides and other treatments in order to have them kept in a decent playing condition. For more background on maintenance issues associated with artificial turf, go tohttp://www.synturf.org/maintenance.html.
No. 01] Editor's Note: It is a no-brainer that an athlete’s health can be jeopardized by exposure to extreme temperatures, overly hard or overly soft surfaces, greater speed at point of impact, with the field or other players, staphylococcus (staph) infections by way of skin abrasion (turf-burn) caused by parasitic bacterium present on the playing surface from human sources. That is true of both artificial turf and natural grass playing fields. Furthermore, field condition, adequate preparation, warm up, previous injury, equipment, footwear, aggressive play, medical impairment, fatigue, and sheer dumb luck are all part of the athletic health and safety picture, regardless of the type of playing surface. The jury is still out on whether the “new generation” artificial turf, like rubber infill fields, cause greater injury than natural turf. This has been hampered by a few developments. The promoters of artificial turf are quick to point out that the new fields are not like the old Astro-turf, which was a carpet laid on top of cement slap. However, it is old hat, the old surface was more injurious to players than natural turf. This has been the finding of many a studies, including one titled “The study titled “Injury Risk in Men’s Canada West University Football” by Brent E. Hagel, Gordon H. Fick and Willem H. Meeuwisse, published in theAmerican Journal of Epidemiology, volume 157, pages 825-833 (2003), available at http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/157/9/825. The public’s concern about safety of the “new generation” fields is often dismissed as having their basis in the old studies about Astro-turf or earlier versions of the “new generation” infill turf. The assessment of safety risk of the “new generation” is often rendered difficult because of a large number of product names, suppliers, manufacturers and installers. The industry is in a state of flux in terms of vertical and horizontal integrations, mergers and acquisitions, international marketing, private labeling, branding and other considerations. For example, in one Pennsylvania study no less than 8 different infill fields where installed for a five-year test period. http://cropsoil.psu.edu/mcnitt/infill3.cfm. The savvy salesman will state that his product is not the same as the one that has raised questions in the mind of the public. With very little information available for the purposes of impeachment of such claims, the public remains in the dark. However, there is a body of growing literature that has looked at the health and safety risks that the “new generation” of artificial turf poses to youth and adult athletes. There is an emerging consensus on two issues: (i) artificial turf is not inherently safer than natural grass, and (ii) artificial turf causes a different kind of injury than natural grass. 2007 -- In a Turkish study titled “Is it safe to play on synthetic turf for ACL injury?,” by Derya Ozer, Irem Duzgun, Baran Yosmaoglu, Volga Bayracki Tunay, Gul Baltaci and Nevin Ergum, and published in the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine (www.jssm.org) (2007, Supplement 10), researched the role of synthetic turf in Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injuries of soccer players. It concluded that playing fields as tough as synthetic turf that is not suitable for standard conditions may indicate a risk factor for ACL ruptures not only for amateur players but also professionals. Therefore, “we would like to warn especially amateur-weekend soccer players about the surface that if you play on synthetic turf you are probably at high risk of having a rupture of ACL.” http://www.jssm.org/suppls/10/Suppl.10.p40-43.pdf. 2006 -- A Swedish study titled “Risk of injury in elite football played on artificial turf versus natural grass: a perspective two-cohort study,” by Jan Ekstrand, T. Timpka and M. Hagglund, and published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, vol.40:975-980 (2006), found a higher risk of ankle sprain on artificial turf compared with grass. It concluded, however, there was no evidence of a greater risk of injury when soccer was played on artificial turf, compared with natural grass. The higher incidence of ankle sprain on artificial turf however warranted further attention. www.bjsportmed.com; http://www.fifa.com/documents/fifa/publication/The_risk_for_injury_when_playing_football_on_artificial_turf_versus_natural_grass.pdf;http://bjsm.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/40/12/975?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&andorexactfulltext=and&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&sortspec=relevance&volume=40&firstpage=975&resourcetype=HWCIT 2006 -- A study titled “ Injuries to High School Football Athletes in California,” by Marizen Ramirez, Kathryn Brown Schaeffer, Haikang Shen, Saman Kashani and Jess F. Kraus, and published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, vol. 34:1147-1158 (2006), concluded that session rates of injury were highest during games on artificial turf, foggy weather and clear evenings. http://ajs.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/34/7/1147
2004 -- The study titled “Incidence, causes, and severity of high school football injuries on FieldTurf versus natural grass: a 5-year prospective,” by M.C. Meyers and B.S. Barnhill of West Texas A & M University and published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, vol. 32(7):1628-38 (Oct-Nov 2004), compared injury incidence of eight high school football teams playing on infill synthetic surface (FieldTurf) and natural turfgrass surfaces. It found higher incidence of 0-day time loss injuries, non-contact injuries surface/epidermal injuries, muscle-related trauma, and injuries during higher temperatures were reported on FieldTurf. However, it found also a higher incidence of 1- to 2-day time loss injuries, 22+ days time loss injuries, head and neural trauma, and ligament injuries were reported on natural grass. The study concluded that although similarities existed between FieldTurf and natural grass over a 5-year period of competitive play, both surfaces also exhibited unique injury patterns that warrant further investigation.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=15494326&dopt=Abstract
2003 -- A study titled “Sports Safety in Australia,” July 2003, concluded “It has been suggested that lower limb injuries, particularly in elite Australian Rules Football, are related to ground conditions and surfaces or the pace of the game. However, specific examination of these factors in community-level sport has yet to be undertaken.” In this assessment the study relied on a 2003 study by Murphy and others on risk factors for lower limb injuries, published previously in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. In that study, three factors were sited for lower limb injury in general: competition settings versus training, artificial turf versus grass or gravel, and previous injury coupled with inadequate rehabilitation. http://www.ausport.gov.au/fulltext/2004/dha/ch6.pdf. The Murphy study was cited also in “Epidemiology of Soccer Injuries in Rwanda: A Need for Physiotherapy Intervention,” a supervised masters of science thesis by Janvier Twizere, Department of Physiotherapy, University of the Western Cape, South Africa (November 2004) http://ww3.uwc.ac.za/docs/%20Library/Theses/Theses%202005%201st%20Grad/Twizere_j.pdf.
At Michigan State University’s Spartan Stadium the artificial turf has been replaced with the new natural turf integrated modular technology. The Michigan State Spartans had decided to switch from the 8 season-old artificial turf to grass because it was worn out. The conversion was instigated at the request of coach, Bobby Williams, because he believed that natural turf cuts down on injuries. http://www.sportsvenue-technology.com/projects/greentech/.
For an article on the hazards of turf from a player's perspective, please go this site (www.syntruf.org), page called "WarpUpArticles," Article No. 1 (Beckham's Lament).
No. 2] Synthetic Turf Playing Fields Present Unique Dangers,” posted on Plant Management Network's Applied Turfgrass Science (November 3, 2005). The following is a summary of the article:
Professor Michael Meyers at West Texas A&M University tracked playing field injuries in Texas high schools for eight years. According to him, athletes tend to suffer injuries at roughly the same frequency on natural and synthetic turfs, but different surfaces tend to result in different types of injuries. There is more torque, more velocity and more traction on artificial turf and that can lead to more muscle strains and spasms. Brad Fresenburg, turfgrass expert at the University of Missouri believes that the greater traction obtained on artificial turf increases the potential pressure on joints and bones from the inability of a fully planted cleat-wearing foot to divot or twist out. According to Rex Sharp, University of Missouri’s head athletic trainer, synthetic turf is as safe as grass. However, outdoor artificial turf fields will get hotter under certain conditions. In his experience the artificial fields get at least 10 to 15 degrees hotter under the afternoon sun and, so, the university staff constantly monitor field temperatures during practices. According to the turfgrass expert at University of Missouri, Brad Fresenburg, the drawback on artificial turf is that the rubber and plastic materials amplify sunlight to cause near unbearable temperatures at certain times of the day. When teams play on grass, they leave divots and ripped out grass. While most lament the “damaged” turf, in reality divots mean that the field is doing its job -- yielding to the athletes' cleats. Another danger with artificial turf is the threat of bacterial infections. According to Fresenburg natural grass has a microbial system and is self-cleaning, whereas the warmth and trapped moisture in synthetic turf fields is where bacteria thrive. The sweat, spit and blood do not biodegrade as they do on natural grass. Therefore, disinfectant should be sprayed as needed if there's a known infection risk. According to Sharp, players need to immediately report any "turf-burns," which must be immediately washed with soap and water to prevent infection. Often young athletes are inclined to ignore seemingly minor injuries so it is up to the coaches and parents to educating the young to let grown ups clean and treat the burns on the spot. Go here for details: http://www.plantmanagementnetwork.org/pub/ats/news/2005/synthetic.
No. 03] Staph infection at Winchester High School.http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2007/10/20/winchester_sports. The recent Staph infection (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus) suffered by a member of Winchester High School [Massachusetts] football team is shedding more light on the prevalence of MRSA infections in our schools. The article repeats the common understanding that people should not share personal items used by others, wash their hands and maintain good hygiene in order to minimize the chance of getting this bacterial infection from others. Stephen Smith “Winchester sports team is checked for MRSA,” The Boston Globe, October 20, 2007, pages B1, and B5 ( The article makes no mention of the abrasions that athletes sustain when they play on artificial surfaces and how that renders them all the more susceptible to getting Staph infection when they come into contact with a person or items bearing the bacteria, possibly including the turf surface itself. The article makes it clear that the bacteria survive on open surfaces like razors, towels, drink bottles, and other things. While turf dos not cause Staph, it is capable of contributing to the contagion because the contact (impact, slide) with the turf does cause abrasions and burns on the skin and, if not treated appropriately, Staph infection can enter the body by way of the abrasion. Unlike natural grass and soil that breakdown and eliminate bacteria, the turf does not have the self-cleaning capability and must be cleansed with bactericides.
A "wrap up" article on turf-related Staph infection appears on this site (www.synturf.org), at "WrapUpArticles" page, Item No. 3.
No. 04] Field of Nightmares: Can playing sports on artificial turf kill you? As the debate rages on, parents need to hear the story of one young Texas athlete who's lucky to be alive, by Patricia Kilday hart, in Texas Monthly, Volume 34, Isssue 5 (Austin: Texas Monthly, a Division of Emmis Publishing, LP), May 2006), available at http://www.texasmonthly.com/preview/2006-05-01/hart.
Abstract (Summary) Boone's doctors don't know where the MRSA originated, though they believe it entered his body through the turf burn. Westlake trainer Brad Hawkins says he knows of no MRSA cases at the school, leading him to conclude that the school's artificial turf is not contaminated. But Westlake athletic director and head football coach Derek Long acknowledges that the school once scrubbed down its field following a staph outbreak (not of the MRSA variety), in 2003. IT HAPPENED ON THE MOST ordinary of plays. Sixteen-year-old Boone Baker, playing wide receiver on the Austin High Maroons junior varsity last October 7, sprinted a quick five yards before turning and snagging a short pass from his quarterback sometime in the second half of a Friday night game against archrival Westlake High. Immediately after Boone caught the pass, he was tackled, hard, with his left shoulder crashing into the artificial turf of Chaparral Stadium. He remembers feeling a burning abrasion on his shoulder when he got up, but he shrugged it off and returned to the huddle.
As football games go, it was a mundane moment, with nothing to presage the medical nightmare that three months later would almost cost Boone his life and temporarily rob him of his mobility and his eyesight in one eye. On that seemingly insignificant play, this strapping, 176-pound, six-foot-two-inch teenager unknowingly joined the swelling ranks of athletes--from the National Football League to high school wrestlers--plagued by a new killer "superbug," a pernicious staph infection that mimics the flu, races through the body with lightning-quick speed, and resists normal penicillin-based antibiotics. Known as MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus ), this bacterial infection first emerged in hospitals five years ago, attacking vulnerable postoperative patients with compromised immune systems. But in the past two years, MRSA has made its deadly presence known in the community at large, with athletes being a prime target, since the bacteria thrives in steamy settings like locker rooms and enters the body through nicks, abrasions, and cuts.
But it's not just athletes who are affected; a Fort Worth woman died in February from an infection suspected to be MRSA, which she contracted during a routine pedicure. But athletes constitute a high-risk category in which MRSA continues to show up in clusters, with disastrous consequences. In 2003 MRSA claimed the life of Ricky Lannetti, who played football for Lycoming College, in Pennsylvania, and sidelined ten football players at a Connecticut college, hospitalizing two. That same year, the infection attacked five members of the St. Louis Rams. In Texas serious outbreaks have been reported among football teams in Denton County, Pasadena, and South Texas, where an alarming 81 cases were reported in 2004.
Health care professionals--from the National Athletic Trainers' Association to the Texas Department of State Health Services--have begun campaigns to educate the public, and especially coaches and athletes, about how to prevent and detect the infection. "I almost don't go to a meeting anymore that it is not a topic on the agenda," says Allen Hardin, the co-director of sports medicine at the University of Texas, where the football team has gone to single-use disposable towels in its war to combat transmission of the infection. At the University Interscholastic League, which oversees public high school athletics, a medical advisory committee is developing a poster to place in locker rooms across the state, featuring pictures of an early-stage infection, which can look as harmless as a mosquito bite, and recommending tips for locker room cleanliness.
Neither the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention nor the state health department keeps statistics on how many cases have occurred in Texas or around the country, but one CDC study suggests that MRSA may occur in as many as 25 out of every 100,000 people. Anecdotal evidence is frightening: One Austin pediatric surgeon in a four-physician practice reported to me that she and her partners averaged ten surgeries per week to drain MRSA abscesses. Officials at Texas Children's Hospital, in Houston, say that the incidences of MRSA have more than doubled since 2003, and the new bacteria now accounts for 77 percent of otherwise healthy patients with staph infections there. Since 2002, the hospital has lost six patients to MRSA, some of them infants. "This is not an athlete problem--it's a people problem," says Dr. Sheldon L. Kaplan, the chief of the hospital's infectious-disease clinic.
As Boone Baker's case illustrates, MRSA often starts out by disguising itself as an innocuous skin wound resembling a pimple or an ingrown hair. Immediately after the Westlake game, Boone showered and applied an antibiotic ointment to his shoulder burn and continued to do so all weekend. But after practice the following Monday, Boone noticed that the burn had become a purplish boil and showed it to a trainer, who directed him to see a doctor. The next day, his doctors lanced and drained the wound, cut out the pustule, took a culture, and identified the infection as MRSA. That called for a specific type of antibiotic, Septra, which, unlike penicillin-family drugs, can still knock out MRSA. Ten days later, Boone was cleared to return to football.
"I thought it was completely behind us," says Missy Baker, Boone's mom. When Boone fell ill with the flu this January, as did many other students at Austin High, the thought of a recurrence of MRSA, attacking his flu-weakened immune system, never entered her mind. Suffering nausea and a high fever, Boone lay on a couch for several days while Missy consulted his pediatrician's nurse by phone. Certain that Boone's lethargy was brought on by dehydration, Missy plied her son with Gatorades, but nothing about his condition made her panic.
Until Thursday, January 19. Early in the day, Boone complained of excruciating back pain. He rebounded, but soon the pain returned with scarier symptoms: fast and shallow breathing, neck pain, and a sudden inability to move his legs. Fearful that Boone had meningitis, Missy and her husband, Coalter, raced their son to an emergency room.
Life-threatening infections like Boone's could be avoided with some basic health precautions. Yet a CDC study released in February about the Rams' experience indicates that, even at the professional level, trainers have been slow to appreciate the risk of MRSA. On an average week, Rams players reported two to three "turf burns," severe abrasions where the skin is rubbed raw by high-velocity contact with artificial turf. Most of the burns were left uncovered during subsequent play. Trainers who treated the wounds on the sidelines did not have ready access to hand-washing or sanitizing materials. Players shared soap, towels, whirlpools, and workout equipment. The CDC study also determined that the infected players had a history of unusually high use of antibiotics, which could have made them more susceptible to the methicillin-resistant strain of staph. In fact, researchers believe that overuse of antibiotics in the community at large has enabled the new strain of bacteria to emerge. The CDC is advising schools that the best way to prevent MRSA is to disinfect common areas, like whirlpools and showers; stop the practice of sharing towels and soap; and encourage frequent hand washing. Players should see trainers about every abrasion, which should be cleaned and covered immediately.
If the prevention of MRSA is relatively simple, the treatment is anything but. When Boone arrived at Brackenridge Hospital, he was immediately placed in the intensive-care unit. For the first night, he was given fluids intravenously while awaiting the results of blood tests to determine whether he had MRSA. By the time the infection was confirmed as MRSA, two days later, the bacteria had erupted in pustules all over his body. Doctors ordered massive doses of antibiotics and waited for his system to respond. But it didn't. Something was blocking the antibiotics from taking effect. Boone's heart was racing at a rate that doctors compared to running a marathon at top speed. His midsection became bloated as his kidneys and liver began to fail. "He was dying, effectively," his dad recalls.
By this time, whole teams of doctors were standing at Boone's bedside. A decision was made to conduct a full-body MRI. After a torturous five-hour session (the MRI was halted several times when Boone's temperature spiked and sent him into uncontrollable chills), doctors found the source of his paralysis: two baseball-size abscesses around the base of his spine. On Monday, Boone underwent back surgery to drain and remove the abscesses and received another round of intensive antibiotics. He remained in the ICU, and doctors immediately began to see progress.
But Wednesday brought another scare: Upon removal of the breathing tube that had been placed down his throat during surgery, Boone said, "Mom, I can't see out of my right eye." Yet another specialist was called in, who confirmed that the MRSA was indeed attacking his eye. For the next couple days, Boone would need to be awakened every hour so a nurse could administer three types of antibiotic eyedrops.
On Super Bowl Sunday, seventeen days after he had arrived at the hospital, Boone was allowed to have visitors. A physical therapist helped him take his first painful steps with the aid of a walker. But Boone experienced another setback when it was discovered that he had some blood clots and that a small pustule on his lung had not responded to the antibiotics. More surgery would be needed.
While Boone had fought for his life in the hospital, his illness had become a statistic in one of the ongoing issues involving MRSA: whether artificial turf can cause the infection. This is a question that affects sports at all levels and can have a major economic impact on companies that produce artificial turf. The CDC, however, is not inclined to blame turf. In its study of the St. Louis Rams outbreak, testing of the turf did not turn up evidence of contamination. "We didn't really feel it was the main mechanism for transmission," says Jeff Hageman, an epidemiologist for the CDC. Rather, Hageman said, researchers found a high incidence of infection among players with the most skin-to-skin contact.
But that has not stopped the MRSA scare from fueling the prolonged dispute between natural-turf and artificial-turf advocates. Brad Fresenburg, a University of Missouri turf grass expert, recently conducted studies of the temperature of his school's synthetic field and found an astonishing 173-degree temperature on a 98-degree day, a temperature disparity he believes contributes to bacterial proliferation. "Natural grass has a microbial system. It's self- cleaning," Fresenburg wrote. "These synthetic fields don't have that." He suggests that synthetic turf be sprayed with a disinfectant when an infection is suspected.
Advocates for synthetic fields disagree, noting that the new generation of turf contains ground automobile tires, which include sulfur and zinc, agents that kill bacteria. "There's no evidence to support the theory that synthetic turf breeds bacteria," says Andrew McNitt, an assistant professor of soil science at Penn State University. "The majority of the data shows that the fact that there are more abrasions means the athletes have more entry points for the bacteria to get in their bodies."
Yet the industry itself is concerned about the possibility of bacterial contamination. In November Astro Corporation unveiled a new product containing an antibacterial agent that it says will protect the turf from corrosion. Several companies have developed products to fight MRSA, including Cleveland-based Pioneer Manufacturing, which, in addition to making paint used to mark athletic fields, now sells an artificial-turf disinfectant called Titan Turf Gard. But the CDC's Hageman believes that the best way to prevent MRSA from spreading is for trainers to immediately treat and cover wounds like Boone's.
Boone's doctors don't know where the MRSA originated, though they believe it entered his body through the turf burn. Westlake trainer Brad Hawkins says he knows of no MRSA cases at the school, leading him to conclude that the School's artificial turf is not contaminated. But Westlake athletic director and head football coach Derek Long acknowledges that the school once scrubbed down its field following a staph outbreak (not of the MRSA variety), in 2003. The Bakers aren't interested in assigning blame but want parents, kids, and trainers to know what to watch for and how to avoid infections. Coalter is haunted by a doctor's comment that Boone would have died if he and Missy had waited another day to get him to the emergency room .
Shortly before Boone left the hospital, I took my son, Michael, who is a friend of Boone's, for a brief visit. Missy had prepared us to expect him to look like a prisoner of war. She wasn't exaggerating: He had lost 41 pounds. Finally, on February 14, more than three weeks after he had been rushed to the emergency room, Boone was cleared to go home, where he remained for a couple months, staying current on his schoolwork and taking his antibiotics intravenously. His vision has returned, but he can't return to playing sports until he finishes all his medicine--July at the earliest--and an orthopedic specialist determines that no bones have been compromised.
I dropped in to see him a few days after he got home, and though he had put on a few pounds, he still looked gaunt. He was sitting in a chair with an IV in his arm. We chatted for a few minutes, and then I asked him: "Will you play football again?" His answer was immediate. "Oh, sure," he said, as if nothing had ever happened.
Warning! Strong Content, May induce Vomit.
[No. 05] Picture This! SynTurf.org, Newton, Mass. February 16, 2008. What do vomit, spit, sweat and other human and animal discharge, and mold and bacterial growth look like in the fibers of artificial turf?Wonder no more!
Courtesy of http://sfparks.googlepages.com/silvtermrsa-- here is a pictorial presentation titled San Francisco Play Fields Poised To Infect.All photos were taken in 2008 at Silver Terrace Play Fields (San Francisco) and Garfield Soccer Field (San Francisco).