Cheerleading is a popular activity among many adolescents and young adults. While the activity began as a way for individuals to cheer on a sports team, cheerleading has evolved into a mixture of cheering, dancing and gymnastics reminiscent of the popular movie “Bring It On.” Due to some of the difficult and dangerous maneuvers done in some cheerleading routines,
many young women and men are at risk for catastrophic brain and spinal cord injuries
, according to HealthDay. A 2012 report by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reveals that cheerleading “accounted for 65 percent of all direct catastrophic injuries to girl athletes at the high school level and 70.8 percent at the college level” from 1982 to 2009.
Approximately 110 injuries occurred in that period, which included “closed-head injuries, skull fractures and cervical spine injuries that resulted in ‘permanent brain injury, paralysis or death’ over that period,” according to the Washington Post. Thankfully, the number of catastrophic injuries has dropped every year in the sport since 2005-06, which can be attributed to new rules and training for coaches provided by the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators.
There are several risks associated with cheerleading injuries. According to the Pediatrics review, risk factors include “higher BMI, previous injury, cheering on harder surfaces, performing stunts and supervision by a coach with a low level of training and experience.” The AAP makes several recommendations to ensure that cheerleaders remain as safe as possible, including some of the following:
- “Cheerleading should be designated a sport so that it is subject to rules and regulations set forth by sports governing bodies and school athletic departments.”
- “Cheerleaders should receive physical exams before participating.”
- “Cheerleaders should be supervised at all times by a well-trained and qualified coach.”
Catastrophic injuries that occur during football are now a part of national discussion. The National Football League just reached a settlement with many former players. Now, many are calling for cheerleading and its potential dangers to receive the same amount of attention.