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From The Field - October 2010

Posted: October 11, 2010

In the not-too-distant past, when an athlete got his "bell rung" he would typically go to the sideline for a couple of plays to clear the cobwebs and then return to the field. With the increased attention now given to concussions, those days are thankfully behind us.

In the not-too-distant past, when an athlete got his “bell rung” he would typically go to the sideline for a couple of plays to clear the cobwebs and then return to the field. With the increased attention now given to concussions, those days are thankfully behind us. While studies show that the majority of concussions during football games result from contact with an opponent, approximately 10% of concussions are caused by athletes’ heads impacting the playing surface. In these cases, the hardness of the playing field largely dictates concussion risk. For example, researchers have shown that athletes are at a higher risk for head injury when playing on a heavily-used, hard natural grass field than when playing on finely-maintained grass or infilled synthetic turf.

Routine Gmax testing is an excellent way to monitor the hardness of any playing surface. Values of 200 Gmax and above are considered values at which life threatening head injuries may be expected to occur. It is recommended that Gmax testing be done a minimum of once per year on synthetic turf fields. For more information on Gmax testing, visit ssrc.psu.edu/infill/infill5.cfm.

Andrew S. McNitt is Associate Professor of Soil Science — Turfgrass and Director of Penn State’s Sports Surface Research Center, The Pennsylvania State University