Association of artificial turf and concussion in competitive contact sports: a systematic review and metaanalysis
Authors Frank O’ Leary 1, Nic Acampora 2, Fiona Hand 3, James O’ Donovan 1
BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine 2020;6:e000695. doi:10.1136/bmjsem-2019-000695
1 Department of Performance
Medicine, Sport Ireland Institute,
2 Faculty of Life Sciences,
University of South Wales,
3 Department of Surgery, St.
Vincent’s University Hospital,
Elm Park, Dublin, Ireland
An interesting study published in May 2020 by the BMJ in Sports Exercise and Medicine concerning artificial pitches:
Artificial turf can be defined as ‘a surface of synthetic fibres made to look like natural grass’. Since its introduction in 1965, safety concerns have been raised over its use as a playing surface in competitive contact sports. The higher number of knee and ankle injuries occurring on artificial turf has been established.
Despite these safety concerns, an ongoing replacement of natural grass with synthetic turf continues to occur in contact sport.
The aim of this review was to compare the incidence of head injuries and concussion on both artificial turf and natural grass in those competitive contact sports (of any standard) using both surfaces. From this, the risk of such injuries can be directly compared on either playing surface.
What is already known?
► With increasing awareness of head injuries in contact sports, the diagnosis of concussion is becoming more common. Artificial turf is frequently used as a
playing surface for contact sports. There remains no consensus on whether playing surface contributes to the incidence of significant head injury.
What are the new findings?
► Analysis of the limited publications on artificial turf playing surface demonstrates a lower incidence of concussion and head injury in competitive contact sports. On subgroup analysis, this effect is most marked in rugby and American football, with no significant association of playing surface on the incidence of head injury or concussion in soccer.
This systematic review demonstrates an overall lower concussion and head injury rate occurring on artificial turf in competitive contact sports combined, yet when assessing the sports (soccer, American football and rugby) individually, the link between head injury and concussion with playing surface type is not as clear.
Future research in this area would be important to ascertain reasons for this result.
Further examination on what other factors exist that could lead to lower head injury and concussion rates on artificial turf in contact sports should be established. This may include: number
of collisions on artificial turf, the incidence of surface to head contact, the maintenance of the artificial turf as well as its surface properties including temperature and HIC (Head Injury Criterion).
For a full read of the article click on the link Artificial Turf and Concussion