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Head Injuries Are a Risk for Cheerleaders

Although the sport of cheerleading may not be looked at as the most intense, the danger of brain injuries sustained by young people participating in it may be surprising. Brain injuries caused by playing football have been well advertised, but those on the sidelines cheering for the players are often overlooked. In fact, cheerleading has been proven to be just as dangerous as football, if not more so.

More than any other male or female-dominated sport, cheerleading ranks first in catastrophic injuries in the U.S., according to a children’s hospital. Since 1987, injuries caused by cheerleading accounted for 65 percent of female sports-related injuries.

Cheerleading’s dangers stem from the number of stunts that call for the girls to be lifted, thrown and maneuvered into the air at great heights. Flips are also prevalent, and if landings are not exact or if spotters do not catch the girl being thrown, serious injuries could certainly result.

Though cheerleading is similar to gymnastics, gymnasts typically perform routines on floors, which are typically padded. Cheerleaders, on the other hand, perform on areas that are not padded, including football fields or gym floors.

The children’s hospital also noted that between 1982 and 2008, 73 catastrophic injuries were suffered by cheerleaders and two even died. That compares to nine injuries in gymnastics and smaller numbers in larger contact sports.

Apart from catastrophic injuries, concussions are also common for cheerleaders.

All injuries involved in cheerleading have the potential to be avoided. Having trained coaches and correct injury prevention methods can make a difference for all team members.

Source: EmpowHer, “Cheerleading: The most dangerous sport?” July 12, 2012

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