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NFL supports safer artificial turf to address concussion crisis

April 15, 2016  - By

“If you could build a safer athletic field, why wouldn’t you?” – Mo Fowell, SF49ers facilities director at the time the field was built.

The NFL is funding the development of new equipment including helmets and turf to reduce head injury. Teams such as the New England Patriots, Houston Texans and Arizona Cardinals are implementing safer turf into their practice facilities, using shock pads manufactured by Brock International to improve the safety of their fields, a press release from Brock reported.

One of the three primary goals of the NFL Head Health Challenge grant money was to advance materials to mitigate impact in sport. Brock PowerBase Pro, made from a molded, foamed polypropylene, is specially tuned to increase the amount of energy absorbed in the artificial turf surface and reducing impact severity transmitted to the head and body, all while maintaining the speed and performance of the field required at the NFL level.

“NFL players require a different surface than student athletes due to their size and power. But this idea is much bigger than just for the NFL,” says Dan Sawyer, CEO of Brock International. “Most of the shock pads used under artificial turf around the country are at colleges, high schools and city parks.”

From Harvard to UCLA, Oregon to Texas, awareness of the effect the sports surface has on concussions is a familiar and expanding topic. A recent White Paper from the Concussion Legacy Foundation shows that 1 in 5 concussions involve a head impact with the surface.

“The study by the Concussion Legacy Foundation was a real eye opener for people considering artificial turf for athletics. Safety in the surface has become a real concern as it relates to head impacts during tackles and falls,” says Ronnie Pascal, former Richmond Kickers professional soccer goalie.

The NFL provided about $20 million in grants to fund research at a university for helmet development, the US Army Research Laboratory for head tethers and a private company to develop a safer approach to artificial turf, putting the sports surface on the same critical radar as protection for the head itself.

As a result, times are rapidly changing in the synthetic turf industry, as more advanced turf systems that include a shock pad under the turf become the norm, and which reduce the level of impacts to the players’ head and body.

“Brock International has been the industry leader in providing state of the art shock absorbing systems specifically engineered for artificial turf for over a decade, and they have proven to maintain a significantly greater level of safety not seen in fields installed directly on top of rock,” says Sawyer. “Our newest PowerBase Pro will provide the results the NFL is looking for, and we have already installed some of our shock pads for NFL teams. We strongly welcome their support of this necessary advancement in artificial turf fields. The days of ‘rug over rock’ need to end, especially since we know the technology exists today that can make the field safer.”

Brock is the only company to have provided shock pad systems at both the NFL and NCAA level, along with hundreds of schools and parks across the U.S.

Photo: Brock International


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