When we think about high school sports injuries, football is typically the first thing that comes to mind—head and neck injuries, specifically. Another group of athletes, however, who often suffer catastrophic injuries are competitive high school cheerleaders.
Although they fly and twist through the air and make it look easy, the stunts our cheerleaders perform at football or basketball games can be extremely dangerous. In fact, cheerleading was responsible for 66% of all catastrophic injuries to female high school athletes over a 25-year period. Safety in the sport is slowly improving, but it can still be dangerous if cheerleaders and coaches are not trained in proper safety techniques.
Common cheerleading injuries
As with most sports, cheerleading (especially competitive) tends to see the same injuries over and over: muscle pulls and strains, tendon and ligament injuries, and soft tissue injuries. However, the big concern as the level of competition increases is the number of catastrophic injuries:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Skull fractures
- Neck injuries
These injuries can result in permanent brain damage, paralysis, or death.
The American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators (AACCA) has instituted safety measures to help protect cheerleaders, and coaches in Arizona and nationwide can get certified by the AACCA. The safety measures include rules about:
- Proper training
- Use of spotters
- Proper footwear
- Rules for stunts
- Number of twists allowed
- Types of catches allowed and prohibited
How can you protect your child?
The best way to protect your child from a cheerleading injury is to ensure their coach is qualified and committed to safety. Ask if they have any certifications and follow the AACCA guidelines. Check that the practice space has mats for tumbling or gymnastic-type activities. Make sure there is a working first-aid kit available. The squad should also not be practicing unsupervised.
A catastrophic injury to your child can be life altering for them and for you. If injury was due to negligence, your child will need an experienced attorney to protect their best interests. Medical expenses and caregiver costs, now and over a lifetime, lost future earnings, suffering, and diminished ability to enjoy life—all of this adds up. At Plattner Verderame P.C., we understand you just need help for your family. We are here. Contact our Phoenix attorneys today at 602-266-2002 or through our contact form.