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Are Synthetic Playing Surfaces As Safe As Natural Grass?

By Grant Jones, MD, American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine , 11/28/18, 12:00PM CST

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More studies need to be performed to more completely evaluate the safety of Field Turf at the highest levels of competition.

Synthetic playing surfaces were initially developed in the 1960’s with the reported advantages over natural surfaces of being a durable, versatile surface, less affected by weather conditions, allowing multi-sport use, having easier maintenance and being more cost-effective.

However, the early generation surfaces did not provide much shock absorption and allowed for increased traction between the surface and athletic shoes, predisposing athletes to more impact type injuries such as concussions and non-contact twisting injuries such as ACL tears. The new generation surfaces such as Field Turf were developed to decrease the injury rates found in the early generation artificial surfaces.