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

g more injuries that a person may not be able to recover from completely - such as concussions or severe fractures.

Cheerleading injuries appear to be on the rise partly because of an increase in participants, but the sport has also changed significantly in the last 25 years. Cheerleading no longer consists of athletes standing on the sidelines, rooting for a team.

"Cheerleading has become an actual competitive sport," she says.

If participants want to be one of the better teams, compete at high levels and be invited to competitions, athletes must include a higher degree of difficulty and risk in routines. This means fewer traditional pyramids and more tossing people in the air, jumping off pyramids and trying risky stunts," Miller Bohn says.

Miller Bohn believes there aren't enough safety measures in place in schools. Many athletes will practice in places such as a back yard, a hard gym floor or a parking lot. There are often no supportive surfaces to shield them from falls.

Participants also lack adequate supervision. If an adequately trained coach is not present to ensure participants are using proper techniques and make sure spotters are placed where they should, injuries may occur.

In addition, there is no uniformity in training of cheerleading coaches. They can range from a child's parent, a former cheerleader, to someone with a high level of training in gymnastics.

What can parents and school officials do to help prevent injuries?

An area to focus in is coaching staff. It's recommended that a coach have experience in first aid and CPR training. It's also preferred that they have good training in how to coach athletes in regard to their development, strength, conditioning, and flexibility. They should also have experience in coaching and how they perform these activities, technique and how they are supported a
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SOURCE University of Michigan Health System
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