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PA Cheerleaders Warned of Injury Risk

By now most young athletes and their parents in Pennsylvania are aware of the risk of sports injuries, particularly concussions in football.

Less appreciated are the risks that cheerleaders face – but the American Academy of Pediatrics hopes to change that.

The AAP has issued a policy statement urging coaches, parents and school officials to take steps to make sure cheerleaders get the same coaching, care and protection as quarterbacks and point guards.

Read the full statement: Cheerleading Injuries: Epidemiology and Recommendations for Prevention.

In recent years, cheerleading has gone from exhorting crowds at football games to a year-round activity that combines acrobatics, dance and gymnastics.

Participation has skyrocketed. From 1990 to 2003, the number of U.S. cheerleaders age 6 and older increased from 3 million to 3.6 million, according to the AAP.

Unfortunately, the injury rate has also soared. Since 2007, there have been 26,000 cheerleading injuries in the U.S. annually. Cheerleading accounts for 66 percent of all catastrophic injuries in high school female athletes over the past 25 years.

Most injuries are sprains and strains to the lower extremities, followed by head and neck injuries.

According to the AAP:

“Cheerleading has become extremely competitive in the past few years, incorporating more complex skills than ever before,” said pediatric sports medicine specialist Cynthia LaBella, MD, FAAP, member of the AAP Council on Sports Medicine & Fitness and co-author of the new guidelines. “Relatively speaking, the injury rate is low compared to other sports, but despite the overall lower rate, the number of catastrophic injuries continues to climb. That is an area of concern and needs attention for improving safety.”

Following are key recommendations from the AAP for preventing injuries:

  • Cheerleading should be designated as a sport in all states, allowing for benefits such as qualified coaches, better access to medical care and injury surveillance.
  • All cheerleaders should have a pre-season physical and access to qualified strength and conditioning coaches.
  • Cheerleaders should be trained in all spotting techniques and only attempt stunts after demonstrating appropriate skill progression.
  • Pyramid and partner stunts should be performed only on a spring/foam floor or grass/turf. Never perform stunts on hard, wet or uneven surfaces. Pyramids should not be more than two people high.
  • Coaches, parents and athletes should have access to a written emergency plan.
  • Any cheerleader suspected of having a head injury should be removed from practice or competition and not allowed to return until he or she has clearance from a health professional.

Free Consultation With a Pennsylvania Personal Injury Attorney

Have you or someone you know been injured in an accident involving cheerleading or another sports activity? Do you have a question about insurance liability or coverage? Talk with an experienced Scranton personal injury lawyer at Munley, Munley & Cartwright. For more than 40 years we have assisted people and families in Pennsylvania whose lives have been disrupted by an accident or injury. Call 877-763-2343 or use this contact form.

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