NFL Promises Safer Future of Football… That Already Exists with Brock USA

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Brock USA applauds the NFL's acknowledgement of the important role shock pads play in artificial turf field safety and looks forward to putting 10+ years of Brock Shock Pad research and applications to work to further protect their athletes.


NFL supports Shock Pads in Artificial Turf Fields

Nearly half of all concussions suffered in the NFL were attributed in some way to a head-to-surface impact.

The NFL is currently running a series of ads called “The Future of Football” where they highlight steps the organization and football clubs across the country are taking to provide a safer experience for all athletes. The latest ad acknowledges the fact that artificial turf surfaces are part of the concussion problem and shock pad technology can make these surfaces safer.

A study done for the NFL by the University of VA Department of Biomedical Engineering found the playing surface was the primary cause of 23% of all NFL player concussions, and another 24% where the surface was part of the cause. Nearly half of all concussions suffered in the NFL were attributed in some way to a head-to-surface impact.

“The NFL’s endorsement of shock pads is a bold move in an industry that has traditionally been slow to adopt progressive safety innovations,” says Dan Sawyer, CEO of Brock USA – the industry leader in shock pads for artificial turf. “We (Brock) have been part of artificial turf systems for over a decade and even included in many NFL practice facilities, but there hasn’t been an acknowledgement by the NFL of the benefits shock pads provide until now. The Head Health Challenge grant was for companies not yet in the business, so we didn’t apply.”

Unlike many other countries and international professional sports, the United States does not have a governing body that establishes safety metrics fields must meet to be considered safe. The only voluntary standards are provided by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), but their current metrics were established in the 1970’s and have never been updated despite advances in technology. HIC is the internationally recognized standard used by the auto industry and others to measure the likelihood of head injury. Pristine natural grass, the surface preferred by athletes and tested at the University of Tennessee and other testing labs, provides a HIC range that is demonstrably safer than the ranges of artificial turf installed over stone, but shock pad technologies are currently available that can solve that problem. (See attached chart for HIC values of shock pads on market compared to pristine natural grass and turf-over-stone.)

The importance for shock pads and safety standards in fields used for youth sports is even more dire. Children in youth football are especially susceptible to concussions from surface impacts due to their developing brains, less developed neck muscles, a larger head-to-body ratio, improper tackling techniques and skills, and many other factors. Dan Sawyer believes the recent investment in artificial turf shock pad research and development of new products by the NFL should expose a need in the artificial turf industry and potentially result in a future where every artificial turf field is installed with a shock pad to better protect athletes at every level.

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Josh Palubicki
Brock USA
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