Cheerleading injury prevention

Posted at: 11/29/2012 5:36 PM
Updated at: 11/29/2012 7:46 PM
By: Robin De Wind

If you've ever watched cheerleaders at a game, you know how dangerous some of those stunts can be. Head injuries have become common place in the sports world, but people don't always anticipate that cheerleaders can be at risk on the sidelines.

Is cheerleading a sport? A new study thinks it should be. Cheerleading has moved from an after school activity to doctors calling for it to be considered a sport in order to cut down on injuries.

It's hard not to cringe when watching this recent video of an Orlando Magic cheerleader  fall off the shoulders of a male cheerleader. She broke three vertebra and a rib. She was lucky.

There is a growing concern that cheerleading at the local level has also become dangerous--
Dr. Gregg Nicandri, University Sports Medicine, said, “What they've seen is the is the injuries are less than other sports but the risk of catastrophic injuries is higher than 66 percent for catastrophic injuries in cheerleading.”

Dr. Gregg Nicandri with University Sports Medicine says spinal and head injuries are the biggest concern, but he also worries about athletes like Webster Schroader junior Nina Giudice.

Nina Giudice said, “I have a shoulder injury, two bad knees and a broken ankle.”

Stunts like pyramid building and lifting, tossing and catching are all part of the tumbling routines teens like Nina spend hours practicing. Cheerleading is not recognized as a sport, so it doesn't ensure athletes have the same built in protections and regulations as other sports do. The study insists it should especially with a new emphasize on concussion prevention.

Dr Nicandri agrees. He says the sidelines need to be monitored as carefully as the playing field is.

Dr. Nicandri said, “Coaches are required to meet certain standard of training, athletes have pre- physicals to make sure they are strong enough to participate. There is medical staff during participation.”

Nina continues to cheer despite her rehab. It's been her life since she was five like any athlete she participates through the pain.

Guidcie said, “It bothers me that people don't consider it a sport. I have so many injuries they don't see what we do at practice, they just see us at games and that's all but its so hard.'

New York State is looking at making cheerleading a sport, but there are a number of legal challenges that could go up to the federal courts, but a national study like this does shed light on the need for these injuries to be taken seriously.