Does Field Surface Type Increase the Collegiate Soccer Player's Risk of Injury?

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Rabbitt, Patrick
Public Health
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Artificial field turf is widely used in replacement to natural grass field across the world. A surge of artificial turf use in playing surfaces at all levels within the last few decades and especially in the last decade, has come with some debate over its advantages and disadvantages. First marketed as chemgrass in the 1960’s artificial turf was designed to allow a surface for children to play on in large cities (Claudio, 2008). Soon artificial turf was being installed in professional stadiums in all sports by the 1970’s and ‘80’s. However, backlash began when players began complaining about the increase in injury risk from the artificial turf surface to the extent that the English Football Association banned artificial turf in 1988 (Claudio, 2008). As a result, all sports, including soccer, the moved away from the use of artificial turf expanded. In a 1995 poll conducted by the National Football Players Association nearly 93% of players believed their was an increased injury risk when playing on artificial turf (Claudio, 2008). A decade after that poll had taken place, however, half of National Football League playing surfaces are back to being artificial turf, or a hybrid consisting of artificial turf (NFL, 2015), and thousands of artificial turf fields are replacing natural grass as the norm for young athletes to train and compete on. Although artificial turf has developed since the original chemgrass design, the debate between an increased risk of injury on artificial surfaces and natural grass is reemerging as retrospective data can be collected. While there has been studies focusing on the risk of injury due to playing surface type, many of those have focused on professional level athletes. This study will specifically focus on collegiate level athletes who must train and compete at high levels on the same surfaces, and are exposed to the same risks of injury. The current study looks to distinguish whether there is an increased risk for injury when playing on artificial turf compared to natural grass surfaces in collegiate soccer players. Using a questionnaire data will be collected on the player’s opinion of the topic, as well as collect data on injury occurrence and severity contrasted between the two surfaces.Claudio, L. (2008). Synthetic Turf: Health DebateTakes Root. Environmental Health Perspectives, 116(3), A116–A122.