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Cheerleaders run high risk of injury-US study

said. Organized competitions between squads make it a year-round activity.

Cheerleading is not considered a sanctioned sport by some state high school athletic associations. As a result, coaches are not always trained, and some schools lack the proper facilities and equipment, said the study's lead author, Brenda Shields, an injury researcher at Columbus Children's Research Institute in Ohio.

Some cheerleaders "practice in hallways on hard surfaces instead of mats," Shields said. "So when they fall off a pyramid or from in the air and they land on hard surfaces, the chances for injury are drastically higher."

The study recommends that coaches get professional safety training and that high schools and cheerleading associations adopt uniform safety procedures and also develop a national database for injuries.

That is something the Memphis, Tennessee-based American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Advisors has been advocating for several years.

The association publishes a safety manual for cheerleaders and offers safety courses for coaches around the country, said the group's executive director, Jim Lord. He said several factors, including the popularity of televised cheerleading competitions, have encouraged more cheerleaders and coaches to mimic difficult tumbling moves before they have the right training.


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