Nearly 100 influential U.S. landscape architects, engineers, testing laboratories, thought leaders and manufacturers met at the Brock International Educational Seminar in Boulder, Colorado, on October 16 – 18 to learn about the latest trends in building safer, more environmentally-friendly synthetic turf playing fields. The unique conference featured presentations from award-winning experts on eco-effectiveness, injury prevention and field design.
“Our goal was to create an event that focused on issues of deep importance to the sports field industry,” explained Dan Sawyer, CEO of Brock International. “From making a positive impact on the environment instead of just minimizing damage, to getting value even in a low bid environment, to the severity of the head injury epidemic in youth sports, presenters gave us a broader world view of what a sports field means, and how it ‘impacts’ people around it.”
Safety was a major focus of the meeting, particularly in light of the U.S. sports concussion crisis. While much attention is focused on player helmets and gear, it is estimated that about 10% of brain injuries are caused by playing surface impacts. Sports Legacy Institute Founder Chris Nowinski discussed injury prevention trends in his “Safety in Sports” presentation, noting that playing surfaces were recently added to the non-profit’s concussion prevention check-list in recognition of its potential impact in preventing injuries. John Sorochan, PhD of the University of Tennessee Center for Athletic Field Safety discussed “Athlete Safety and Performance on Natural and Synthetic Athletic Fields,” in his presentation while Jennifer Himmelsbach, MS, of Biomechanica addressed “Tuning the Surface for the Player.”
The Keynote Speaker was Professor Dr. Michael Braungart, one of the foremost international authorities on eco-effective products and closed-loop production processes, which go beyond being not only harmless to man or nature, but actually beneficial. Co-author of the groundbreaking bestsellers “Cradle to Cradle” and “The Upcycle,” Braungart discussed the importance of going beyond sustainability to focus on designing for abundance. Patrick Maguire, MLA, RLA, LEED AP, continued the discussion on eco-effectiveness with his presentation on “LEED, Cradle to Cradle Practices and Synthetic Turf.”
Thought leaders in landscape architecture and engineering also made presentations on improving industry practices. Ron Kagawa, ASLA LEED AP, Division Chief, Park Planning, Design+Captial Development; City of Alexandria, Virginia discussed “Cheapness vs. Economy: Strategies in a Low Bid Environment. “Alternatives to Stone Base Construction” was presented by George Saunders, PE, of Geodesigns, Inc. and John Amato, PE of JJA Sports, while Jeffery L. Bruce, FASLA, LEED, ASIC, GRP and Ryan Teeter, PE, IDD Sports discussed “How fields age – what we’ve learned over the past 10 years.”
“In 30 years of practice it was by far the best educational seminar I have attended, definitely about more than just improving our knowledge of synthetic turf systems,” noted seminar attendee Carl Armanini, RLA, ASLA, Woolpert Design. “We were confronted with examining our everyday processes and how making simple decisions correctly allows us to create better places and products that result in better health, environment and life overall.”
Safety and sustainability are key values for Brock International, the sponsor of our outreach program, whose industry-leading shock pad and drainage layer used underneath synthetic turf fields has been proven to reduce G-max, which may reduce the risk and severity of concussion. Their Brock PowerBase product is currently installed underneath playing and practice fields for the San Francisco 49ers, at the Gillette Stadium practice field, home of the NFL’s New England Patriots, the Houston Texans, Arizona Cardinals, the University of Maryland, Boston College, Boise State, UCLA, Georgia Tech, Stanford and hundreds of high schools and middle schools nationwide. In 2012, the company launched Brock PowerBase Youth Safety Research (YSR), the first synthetic turf shock pad engineered specifically to the ideal footing requirements and safety of high school and middle school athletes. In October 2011, Brock became the first company in the industry to have a Cradle to Cradle Certification CM for its combined drainage and shock pad product. Offering the only product in the market that can be closed loop recycled, Brock PowerBase is certified to the world’s most stringent environmental standards.
While men’s football concussions are in the headlines daily from former and current players, there’s rarely news about how concussions are impacting female athletes. Recognizing that their experiences are being overlooked, advocacy group Pink Concussions and Clemson University researchers have launched a national study of female athletes and concussions – and you can help.
Though mainstream media doesn’t often focus on female athletes, they experience a significant number of concussions. In fact, data from the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine Position Statement: Concussion in Sport 2012 suggested that in sports with similar rules, female athletes sustain more concussions than their male counterparts. In addition, female athletes experience or report a higher number and severity of symptoms as well as a longer duration of recovery than male athletes in several studies.
Running from October 1 through October 31, this new study will be focused on female athletes from all sports, and their past and present experiences with concussions. Current and former female athletes worldwide, aged 18 and over, are eligible to participate. The online study takes 20 minutes to complete, and asks participants about their experiences with sports and non-sport concussions, and reporting concussions. If you would like to participate, here is the survey sign-up form and you can visit www.pinkconcussions.com to learn more.
The results of this survey will help further concussion research by focusing on the communicative element present in this issue, which is helpful for athletes, parents, administrators, physicians, and advocates. This research will also be beneficial in shedding light on female athletes’ experiences with concussions and reporting concussions, and concussion advocates in raising more awareness.
Ever heard the adage a picture is worth a 1,000 words? The physician-researchers at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s “Minds Matter” program certainly think so, as they developed an innovative series of infographics to help prevent and treat youth concussions.
Just in time for back-to-school and fall sports, they released a series of six infographics that aims to educate players, parents, nurses and coaches about concussion symptoms and treatments, so they can keep their heads in the game. These materials offer the most up-to-date tips for detection and treatment of youth concussions. All six of the infographics and more information about concussions can be found at: http://www.chop.edu/service/concussion-care-for-kids/concussion-educational-tools/.
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) takes youth concussions very seriously. Beginning in 2011, an interdisciplinary team of concussion experts from across CHOP joined forces to develop a comprehensive network-wide pediatric concussion management program to streamline and standardize concussion diagnosis, treatment and follow-up care. The program is called “Minds Matter: Improving Pediatric Concussion Management.”
The Minds Matter team reviewed current practices across CHOP and the scientific literature on best practice for diagnosis and management of pediatric concussion and developed a new model of care. To make sure each child receives prompt diagnosis and early treatment, CHOP supports its primary care network providers with concussion-specific training, tools for clinical diagnosis and management, as well as patient-family education resources like their website and infographics.
When the students at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School in Atlanta entered their high school assembly today, they had more on the roster to talk about than pep rallies and new regulations. Student-athlete safety was the primary topic of discussion as their school honored classmate Brendan Rosenberg and Jacob Schlanger (of nearby North Springs High School) for winning Brock’s Safety MVP Contest.
As reported earlier this summer, the national contest asked student participants to showcase why safety is as important as winning to their school sports team. Brendan and Jacob took top honors for their humorous “Sports Center” video collaboration on the topic, winning the competition’s grand prize of $5,000 for the sports program at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School.
During the assembly, Athletic Director Ruth Donohue praised the video, which included appearances by football team members and Coach Ryan Lizvey, who shared safety tips. Brock spokesperson Shira Miller talked about the company’s commitment to helping prevent youth concussions and other injuries from the ground up. Then Brendan and Jacob took the stage, receiving a long round of applause from their peers.
The school elected to use the prize money for a more permanent fixture in the form of a new field goal post. You can check out the winning video here.
If you pay attention to headlines about sports injuries, you’ve probably heard a lot recently about chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a brain disease associated with repeat brain trauma including concussions in athletes. On August 21, new research was released from the largest CTE study of its kind that shows the disease may impact people in two major ways: initially affecting behavior or mood or initially affecting memory and thinking abilities. CTE has been found in amateur and professional athletes, members of the military and others who experienced repeated head injuries, including concussions and subconcussive trauma.
“This is the largest study to date of the clinical presentation and course of CTE in autopsy-confirmed cases of the disease,” said study author Robert A. Stern, PhD, a professor of neurology and neurosurgery at Boston University School of Medicine. “However, the overall number of cases in the study is still small and there may be more variations in CTE than described here.”
For the study, scientists examined the brains and reviewed medical records of 36 male athletes, ages 17 to 98, diagnosed with CTE after death, and who had no other brain disease, such as Alzheimer’s. The majority of the athletes had played amateur or professional football, with the rest participating in hockey, wrestling or boxing. Family members were also interviewed about the athletes’ life and medical history, specifically dementia, changes in thinking, memory, behavior, mood, motor skills or ability to carry out daily living tasks. Some of the findings included:
- A total of 22 of the athletes had behavior and mood problems as their first symptoms of CTE, while 11 had memory and thinking problems as their first symptoms. Three of the athletes did not show any symptoms of CTE at the time of death.
- Those with behavior and mood problems experienced symptoms at a younger age, with the first symptom appearing at an average age of 35, compared to an average age of 59 for those with memory and thinking problems. Almost all people in the mood/behavior group, or 91 percent, experienced symptoms of memory and thinking decline at some point, but fewer in the cognition group experienced mood and behavior symptoms throughout their disease, with 55 percent experiencing behavior symptoms and 64 percent experiencing mood symptoms at some point.
- The group that experienced mood symptoms was more explosive, out of control, physically and verbally violent and depressed than the group that experienced memory and thinking deficits, with family members reporting that 73 percent of those in the first group were “explosive,” compared to 27 percent in the second group. A total of 64 percent of the first group were described as being “out of control,” compared to 27 percent of the second group, and 68 percent were physically violent, compared to 18 percent. A total of 74 percent were verbally violent, compared to 18 percent. And 86 percent had depression, compared to 18 percent of those with memory symptoms.
The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment, the Sports Legacy Institute, the National Football League (NFL) and the Andlinger Foundation. The neuropathological examinations were conducted by Ann McKee, MD, professor of neurology and pathology at BUSM. McKee and Stern were co-founders of the Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, along with neurosurgeon Robert Cantu, MD, and Christopher Nowinski, Executive Director of Sports Legacy Institute.
On August 5, Safe Kids Worldwide released a new research report indicating that every 25 seconds, or 1.35 million times each year, a young athlete suffers a sports injury severe enough to go to the emergency room. The report, called “Game Changers,” takes an in-depth look at data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) to explore what type of injuries are sidelining young athletes.
According to the report that studied the 14 most popular sports, concussions account for 163,000 of those ER visits, or 12 percent. That’s a concussion-related ER visit every three minutes. Surprisingly, it is not just high school athletes suffering concussions; athletes ages 12 to 15 make up almost half (47%) of the sports-related concussions seen in the ER, a statistic made even more disturbing by the knowledge that younger children with concussions take a longer time to recover than older children.
“We uncovered some surprising and disturbing data about how often our kids are being injured playing sports,” said Kate Carr, president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide. “But we also found some inspiring stories from people and programs that are making a marked difference.
The study details both the types of injuries and the rates of injuries for the most popular sports. Not surprising, in 2011, the sport with the most injuries is football, which also has the highest concussion rate. Wrestling and cheerleading have the second and third highest concussion rate. The sport with the highest percent of concussion injuries is ice hockey.
The report also includes profiles of actions some communities, sports leagues, and individual athletes who are taking a proactive stance in order to turn these statistics around. You can Download the Report or helpful Sports Safety Tips from Safe Kids Worldwide here.
Safe Kids Worldwide is a global network of organizations dedicated to providing parents and caregivers with practical and proven resources to protect kids from unintentional injuries, the number one cause of death to children in the United States. Throughout the world, almost one million children die of an injury each year, and every one of these tragedies is preventable. Safe Kids works with an extensive network of more than 600 coalitions in the U.S. and in 23 countries to reduce traffic injuries, drownings, falls, burns, poisonings and more. Since 1988, Safe Kids has helped reduce the U.S. childhood death rate from unintentional injury by 55 percent. Visit www.safekids.org to learn more.
We just read a thought-provoking article by Mike Freeman of CBS Sports.com that focused on an interesting number – 29,225. You see according to the NCAA’s own injury-tracking data, that represents the total number of concussions from all NCAA sports during 2004- 2009 – and over half of them occurred in football, which is more than all other fall sports combined. He wonders if a legion of players entered the NFL already having head trauma from their collegiate days….
Here’s an excerpt from his story:
Of the many accusations springing from what is emerging as a historic legal case against the NCAA, the biggest claims negligence in how the governing body of college athletics monitored and handled concussions for its athletes.
The issues are complicated, but what I mainly wanted to do was examine a number: 29,225.
That, according to the NCAA’s own injury-tracking data, was the total number of concussions from all NCAA sports from 2004-2009.
Did you know that concussions impact more than one million American athletes each year? That’s why the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) released an evidence-based guideline for evaluating and managing athletes with concussions a few months ago. The updated guidelines, developed through an objective evidence-based review of the literature by a multidisciplinary committee of experts, have been endorsed by a broad range of athletic, medical and patient groups.
“Among the most important recommendations the Academy is making is that any athlete suspected of experiencing a concussion immediately be removed from play,” said co-lead guideline author Christopher C. Giza, MD, with the David Geffen School of Medicine and Mattel Children’s Hospital at UCLA and a member of the AAN. “We’ve moved away from the concussion grading systems we first established in 1997 and are now recommending that concussion and return to play be assessed in each athlete individually. There is no set timeline for safe return to play.”
The updated guideline recommends athletes with suspected concussion be immediately taken out of the game and not returned until assessed by a licensed health care professional trained in concussion, return to play slowly and only after all acute symptoms are gone. Athletes of high school age and younger with a concussion should be managed more conservatively in regard to return to play, as evidence shows that they take longer to recover than college athletes.
Highlights of the updated guideline include:
- Among the sports in the studies evaluated, risk of concussion is greatest in football and rugby, followed by hockey and soccer. The risk of concussion for young women and girls is greatest in soccer and basketball.
- An athlete who has a history of one or more concussions is at greater risk for being diagnosed with another concussion.
- The first 10 days after a concussion appears to be the period of greatest risk for being diagnosed with another concussion.
- There is no clear evidence that one type of football helmet can better protect against concussion over another kind of helmet. Helmets should fit properly and be well maintained.
- Licensed health professionals trained in treating concussion should look for ongoing symptoms (especially headache and fogginess), history of concussions and younger age in the athlete. Each of these factors has been linked to a longer recovery after a concussion.
- Risk factors linked to chronic neurobehavioral impairment in professional athletes include prior concussion, longer exposure to the sport and having the ApoE4 gene.
To learn more, visit http://www.aan.com/concussion.
Is safety as important as winning to your school sports team? That’s the question students nationwide answered in Brock’s Safety MVP Contest, which was created to recognize U.S. schools that place a high value on student-athlete safety in light of the growing youth sports concussion crisis. A lot of great video submissions were received and top honors went to Atlanta high school juniors Brendan Rosenberg and Jacob Schlanger.
“Our coaches’ start every season talking about safety and making it a priority,” explained Rosenberg. “The school’s philosophy is not ‘to win at all costs’ because each coach wants his or her players to be healthy, safe and have longevity so they can continue to build a winning team season after season.”
Rosenberg, a student at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School and Schlanger, who attends North Springs High School, took a humorous “Sports Center” approach to the topic as you can see in the video below. Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School will receive the competition’s grand prize of $5,000 worth of sports equipment for their team.
“We were deeply moved by the terrific entries received,” said Dan Sawyer, CEO of Brock International. “Our team hopes this contest brings more attention to the proactive efforts taken by coaches, schools, parents and America’s youth to reduce the quantity and severity of injuries on the playing field.”
Want to see more of the contest videos received? Visit us on YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/user/SaferYouthSports
We are big believers in truth in advertising. That’s why our team wanted to recognize the Youth Sports Concussion Act, which helps ensure that safety standards for sports equipment used by young athletes are up to date and informed by the latest science. Introduced on May 22, 2013 by U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and John D. “Jay” Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, the legislation seeks to protect youth athletes from the dangers of sports-related traumatic brain injuries by improving equipment safety standards and curbing false advertising claims.
“We want our children to be active and participate in sports, but we must take every precaution to protect them from traumatic head injuries,” said Senator Udall in the press announcement.”There will always be some risk, but athletes, coaches and parents need to be aware of the dangers and signs of concussion. And in order for them to best protect the young athletes, we must make sure they are using safe equipment and curb misleading advertising that gives them a false sense of security.”
During the 2011-2012 school year, more than 300,000 high school athletes in the most common sports were diagnosed with concussions, though many head injuries continue to go unreported and ignored. Researchers have found that children and adolescents are particularly susceptible to concussions and that – once concussed – the likelihood of suffering another increases each time. Sports are the second leading cause of traumatic brain injury for people who are 15 to 24 years old, behind only motor vehicle crashes. Every year American athletes suffer up to an estimated 3.8 million sports-related concussions.
Goals of the Youth Sports Concussion Act:
- Instruct the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to review the findings of a forthcoming National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report on sports-related concussions in youth;
- Authorize the CPSC to make recommendations to manufacturers and, if necessary, promulgate new consumer rules for protective equipment based on the findings of the NAS report; and
- Allow the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to impose civil penalties for using false claims to sell protective gear for sports. State attorneys general could also enforce such violations.
What do you think of the Youth Sports Concussion Act?
Senator Tom Udall’s website, Udall, Rockefeller Introduce Bill to Help Protect Young Athletes from Sports-Related Traumatic Brain Injuries, May 22, 2013