Artificial turf pitches may pose an additional risk of concussion for children

October 08 2022

2 minutes to read


Chun Ik and others. The effect of strength differences on natural turf versus football fields with artificial turf. Presented at: AAP National Conference and Exhibition; October 7 – October. 11, 2022; Anaheim, California.

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Anaheim, CA – The results presented here suggest that young athletes may be more likely to have head injuries on artificial turf versus natural turf fields.

Previous research has shown that some injuries Most common For athletes competing on artificial turf, the evidence is inconclusive that the same is true for concussions.


Data from Chun et al.

To help bridge the gap, Ian K. Chun, BA, Third-year medical student at the University of Hawaii John A. Burns and colleagues studied whether the stiffness of an artificial turf field might pose an additional risk to children playing soccer.

Chun and his colleagues said that artificial turf soccer fields are becoming more popular because they are cheaper to care for, even though studies have shown that more than 15% of concussions among high school athletes are attributable to contact with the playing surface.

β€œOne of the problems we first encountered when we were starting the setup [our] Chun said during a press conference at the AAP National Conference and Exhibition.

Their solution was to provide a mannequin with accelerometers and drop them onto high school football fields across Oahu, Hawaii, to measure differences in impact deceleration between turf-covered fields and grass fields.

They installed the sensors on the forehead, right ear, and top of a mannequin’s head and dropped it from about two feet more than 1,700 times β€” 10 times each for the front, back, and left side at the 40-yard line, 20-yard line and in the end area β€” to calculate the magnitude of the effect. Chun said they selected 10 natural grass and nine artificial grass fields for the study and conducted the experiments after at least 24 hours of rain because rain can affect the hardness of the pitches.

They calculated that the effect of the mannequin sluggishness was greater on synthetic fields than on natural turf fields β€” Chun said that “artificial turf fields were harder than natural turf fields.” Specifically, all accelerometers showed a significantly greater effect on forward and reverse falls on artificial turf than on natural turf surfaces. On the fall side, the sensor on top of the mannequin’s head showed much more deceleration in impact on the artificial turf.

The results do not prove that the risk of concussion is greater on artificial turf than on natural grass because the study did not compare concussion rates among children who play on these surfaces, Chun said. Pursuing this question requires more study and more resources.

However, Chun said, “The logical conclusion one could make is that a harder field would lead to a greater concussion risk.”

He is among the collaborators at Chun University in Hawaii Nathaniel Villanueva, B.A., Medical student and professor of pediatrics Lauren J. Yamamoto, MD, MPH.

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