Study Finds Cheerleading Injuries on the Rise

By: Sarah Batista
By: Sarah Batista

January 3, 2006

Even the youngest cheerleaders are tackling some of the toughest moves, from lifts and tosses to sky-high pyramids. Cheerleading leads the pack when it comes to ladies sports injuries. It's these moves that have more young people headed to the emergency room.

According to Today's Journal, pediatric injuries relating to cheerleading nearly doubled between 1990 and 2002. Some cheerleaders say it is not just about looking cute in a skirt anymore. It takes a lot more skill.

Their energy keeps us going on the sidelines, but cheerleading isn't all fun and games. Their daring stunts can turn dangerous and in rare cases, deadly.

"Some of these pyramids and basket tosses, put the cheerleading athletes at significant risk," said Dr. Mark Miller, Director of Sports Medicine at UVa.

A new study in the Journal of Pediatrics estimates between 1990 and 2002, about 16,000 young people a year were treated in emergency rooms for cheerleading-related injuries.

"People fell all the time, and usually we're trained to catch them if they fall, but there not always going to get caught and they're ankle will twist to the side," said former cheerleader Allison Mockler.

Allison Mockler is recovering from knee surgery. The former high school cheerleader turned dancer wore the cartilage in her knee down to the bone.

"It could be from years of cheering and dancing and being on the field, and the basketball floor, and it's just too much for the knee to handle," explained Mockler.

Researchers believe the sport's higher demands could be too much for some young people to handle, especially without the right instruction.

"We go through practice and stuff but we don't have official training," said Mockler.

Some athletic associations still don't consider cheerleading as a sport,which is why some coaches still lack the proper training and equipment that they need to help prevent injuries.

The patients used in the study were all treated in emergency rooms, so the number could be even higher when you factor in those that were treated elsewhere.

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