We’ve come a long way from the earliest versions of artificial turf, which were essentially large pieces of green plastic laid down over cement. The newest generations of artificial turf are radically better than the very first versions, yet the debate over which type of surface is best from a safety standpoint continues.
We’ll highlight this week some of the latest published research in this debate. In a large series specifically studying collegiate tackle football, it was determined that playing on artificial turf was an increased risk for PCL injuries in Division I players and for ACL injuries in Division II and Division III players.
While there are many strengths in this study, I would caution that the results are specific to American collegiate tackle football and may not be similar in other sports or in youth age groups.
Does your brain think you’re ready to return to sports after your ACL surgery?
Readiness for return to sports activity after ACL surgery depends on many factors. We like to see evidence from our physical exam that the graft is properly healed, motion is back to normal, and strength is nearly normal. My partners at Stanford and I also place a lot of emphasis on normalized landing mechanics and other movement-based measurements. And another area we like to consider is whether the athlete herself/himself feels ready to return to sports. It turns out the psychological readiness is a bigger factor than we’ve realized.
What if it was possible to repair the torn ACL by using stitches rather than replacing it with tissue removed from another area in the body? This is attractive as it would theoretically lead to an easier rehab, and avoid possible injury to the growth plates in adolescents. However, a recently published study showed a 49% failure rate at 3 years, compared to a 5% failure rate for traditional ACL reconstruction. This is an unacceptably high failure rate, and ACL repair with stitches is not advised for young athletes.