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Cheerleading is Leading Cause of Catastrophic Injury in Young Women
Date:8/3/2009

Expert recommends parents and schools monitor activities, coaching and safety precautions more closely

ANN ARBOR, Mich., Aug. 3 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As a bright, young cheerleader trying out for the high school varsity squad, 14-year-old Laura Jackson had everything going for her.

But when a back flip went wrong during a try-out without a trained spotter on hand, Laura landed on her head fracturing her neck and damaging her spinal cord. Laura is now paralyzed and breathes with the help of a ventilator.

Cheerleading has become the leading cause of catastrophic injury in young female athletes, says Amy Miller Bohn, a physician at the UMHS department of family medicine.

Data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission shows that rates of injuries from cheerleading accidents have gone from nearly 5,000 in 1980 to close to 26,000 to 28,000 in the past few years, Miller Bohn says.

In addition, the leading cause of catastrophic injuries in female athletes is cheerleading, according to The National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research. They account for approximately 65 to 66 percent of all female catastrophic injuries in either high school or college.

"If you look at cheerleading injuries, most of them are still more the common types of things that we should think about - muscle strains or pulls, ligament injuries, tendon injuries," Miller Bohn says. "The concern is that there are certainly a fair number of increasingly severe injuries."

Because of the increase in degree of difficulty in cheerleading skills, increased acrobatics and stunt activities may be increasing the risk of severity of injury.

Catastrophic injuries seen in cheerleading involve either death, injuries that results in disability that are often related to head trauma or spine trauma. Doctors are also seein
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SOURCE University of Michigan Health System
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