Notre Dame High School sports medicine teacher Elsie Moore said in an article on NJ.com that cheerleading ‘has had the greatest increase in catastrophic injury’ of any sport over the past few years. She continued, ‘They’re doing all sorts of acrobatic things and aerial, where they’re being thrown and caught. You have great forces involved. If you have a slipup, the impact can be catastrophic.’ High school cheerleader Kylee McKell’s case is one example of a catastrophic impact.
McKell is a cheerleader at Spanish Fork High School. The 17-year-old girl collided with a confused student from the opposing Park City High School cheerleaders and sustained atraumatic brain injury. McKell underwent surgery immediately after the accident. Doctors had to shave her long blonde hair, so McKell’s friends on the cheerleading team shaved their heads in solidarity with their injured classmate, a KSL article reported.
Another high school cheerleader, Alexa McCormack of West Milford High School in New Jersey, was reported in the NJ.com article to have suffered 3 concussions during her final year and a half in high school. While she did not suffer the severe and immediate trauma suffered by McKell, McKormack now ‘suffers migraine headaches every day, her vision is deteriorating and airplane travel creates a feeling of intense pressure in her head,’ NJ.com reported.
Yet another cheerleader, Christina Hutchinson, who also suffered a head injury from being dropped during a gymnastic cheerleading routine, said she was encouraged to just shake off the injury and keep on cheering. She said that she was unaware of the danger of concussions, and that it was possible to suffer a concussion and not be aware it had happened, due to a lack of education on the subject.
Hitchinson told NJ.com, ‘If something goes wrong, you’re taught to shake it off and not even worry about it. After years of cheerleading, that was just kind of second nature.’ With all the recent attention focusing on concussions in professional and high school sports, the spotlight appears to be expanding to include cheerleading among the youth athletics deserving of more careful scrutiny when it comes to preventing and recognizing serious injuries.
Rinde, Meir. (January 10, 2010) ‘Experts say cheerleaders suffering more concussions.’ Retrieved on January 10, 2010 from the NJ.com website:http://www.nj.com/news/times/regional/index.ssf?/base/news-18/1263105935…
Stagg, Jennifer. (January 7, 2010) ‘Spanish Fork cheerleader recovering from brain injury.’ Retrieved on January 10, 2010 from the KSL website: http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=9268880&autostart=y