cheerleading has become a more competitive sport, increasing the difficulty and
athleticism of its maneuvers. A new study examining data from a national high
school sports injury surveillance system between 2009 and 2014 revealed that
while overall injury rates among cheerleaders are lower than most other high
school sports, the injuries that do occur tend to be more severe. According to
the study, “Cheerleading Injuries in United States High Schools
,” in the
January 2016 issue of Pediatrics (published online Dec. 10), cheerleading ranks
18th out of 22 high school sports studied in terms of injury rate.
Of all the sports studied, cheerleading ranked second (behind gymnastics) in
the proportion of injuries that resulted in an athlete being benched for at
least three weeks or for the entire season. More injuries occurred during
cheerleading competition and practice (.85 and .76 injuries per 1,000
athlete-exposures, respectively), than during performances (.49 injuries per
1,000 exposures). Although concussions were the most common cheerleading injury
(31 percent of injuries), concussion rates were significantly lower in
cheerleading (2.2 per 10,000 athlete-exposures) than all other high school
sports combined (3.8 per 10,000 exposures) and all other girls’ sports combined
(2.7 per 10,000 exposures). More than half of all concussions occurred during
stunts (69 percent), with pyramid formations accounting for 16 percent and
tumbling representing 9 percent. Most stunt- and pyramid-related concussions
resulted from contact with another person, most commonly his or her elbow.
Cheerleaders at the base of formations for stunts and pyramids accounted for 46
percent of all injuries, followed by flyers (36 percent) and spotters (10
percent). The researchers said prevention efforts should focus on specific
activities that put cheerleaders at risk of severe injuries.
American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 64,000 primary
care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric
surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of
infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information,
visit www.aap.org or follow us at @AmerAcadPeds.