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Cheerleading Leaves Thousands Injured Each Year

While cheerleaders may make the flips, turns, jumps, lifts and other stunts look like a walk in the park, they are far from that. Cheerleading is a physically demanding and extremely dangerous activity. Moves require strength, endurance, coordination, balance and succinct timing. One wrong move could end in disaster. With more and more young people embracing cheerleading has become a serious sport with an ever increasing number of complex moves. Over 500,000 girls nationwide are part of a cheerleading squad where competition is high, and so is risk.

Just last year 37,000 cheerleaders made their way to local emergency rooms for injury treatment. Some sprains and strains are always among the injured however, the rise in serious and even catastrophic injuries is four-times higher than it was in 1980. Injuries include such things as skull fractures, closed-head injuries and cervical spine injuries.

Because there is more to cheerleading than simply cheering on a team, squads find that unless they are willing to stack people on top of each other in a somewhat precarious

manner, jump off of human pyramids and WOW judges and the crowd, they cannot be competitive. Obviously, the greater the risk the greater the chance of injury. In fact, cheerleading tucks in just behind football as the leading cause of catastrophic injuries in American high schools. Of all of the female athletic injuries in college between 1982 and 2011, cheerleading accounted for 71% of these injuries. In high schools, this number was 65%.

Part of the reason why there are so many injuries is because of inconsistency. Without a regulating body or uniform standards, equipment may be old and faulty, coaches under qualified and safety measures and supervision loose. Well-meaning parents who perhaps were once cheerleaders, now lead kids, many who do not have the proper physical conditioning into dangerous situations.

At present, only 29 states recognize high school cheerleading as a sport and the NCAA does not recognize it as a sport at all. Without this recognition, participants are missing out on qualified coaches, access to certified trainers, well-kept practice facilities, school physicals and monitoring of injuries for data collection.

As a parent of a cheerleader or a child who wishes to become a cheerleader, it is essential to become familiar with the program. Assess safety measures, the degree of qualified coaches and the history of accidents, if available, for the particular group. Don’t ever be afraid to question something you feel is unsafe, it could save a life!

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