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Pediatricians Warn about Catastrophic Cheerleading Injuries

Posted on October 30, 2012

With its complex gymnastics-inspired flips, jumps, and tumbles, it can be said with certainty that today’s cheerleading is not your mom’s cheerleading.

That’s why the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) has recommended that cheerleading be given the same designation as a sport, and it has suggested that guidelines be implemented to prevent catastrophic injuries.

While the injury rate for cheerleading is far less than that for gymnastics or soccer, an AAP study found that cheerleaders are at a disproportionally high risk for skull fractures or spine injuries. Cheerleading accounted for 65 percent of all catastrophic injuries in high school athletes and about 71 percent of college women between 1982 and 2009.

Researchers found that there were 4,954 cheerleading-related hospital visits in 1980. Remarkably, that rate climbed 400 percent to 26,786 in 2007.

The reason AAP wants cheerleading designated as a sport is that many of the safety mechanisms that are in place for sports teams simply may not be there for cheerleaders. Those mechanisms include access to medical care and trainers, better facilities, and certified coaches.

AAP has also recommended that cheerleaders be required to pass a pre-season physical, be removed from competition if they have a head injury, and have access to strength and conditioning coaches. Twenty-nine states already recognize cheerleading as a sport at the high school level, but the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) does not.

Florida considers cheerleading a sport only if it’s competitive.

The personal injury attorneys in Clearwater at Farah & Farah in Florida endorse any recommendations designed to keep young people safe from catastrophic injuries. Coaches and schools owe those in their charge a safe environment. If you or a loved one has experienced a catastrophic cheerleading injury, call us at (800) 533-3555. We’re here to help.

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