Cheerleading Accidents and Injuries
Don’t let the bright smiles, high spirits, and seemingly effortless kicks and flips fool you: cheerleading is a dangerous sport. According to the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury, cheerleading ranks as the second most catastrophic injury-prone sport, just one after football. Most recent statistics indicate that more than 30,000 cheerleaders per year suffer injuries and these figures may be on the rise.
It’s no wonder why. Cheerleading used to be an activity involving no more than spirited chanting while jumping up and down waving pom-poms. Today it consists of complicated dance routines and gymnastic maneuvers that include backflips, tumbling, building human pyramids, and performing flying stunts where cheerleaders are sometimes tossed as high as 15-20 feet in the air and caught by their teammates.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has recently called for cheerleading to be officially classified as a sport so that it would be subject to safety regulations similar to other girls’ sports. It is believed this would likely lead to more rigorous oversight of the training of cheerleaders, better facilities, and heightened professional standards for cheer coaches. Whether this will come to pass remains to be seen.
Types of cheerleading injuries
Cheerleaders can suffer a range of injuries. The most common is a muscle/ligament sprain/strain, which consists of 53% of all cheerleading injuries. Other injuries include:
- head trauma (concussion, etc.)
- spinal cord and back injuries
- back injuries
- broken bones and fractures
- groin pulls
- soft tissue injuries
How cheerleading injuries can be prevented or reduced
The American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Advisors and the National Council for Spirit Safety and Education have recently introduced new safety measures that every school with a cheer program should adhere to. Among many others, these safety measures include:
- Restricting pyramid height
- Increasing the number of spotters
- Prohibiting tumbling stunts over, under or through partner stunts
- Prohibiting airborne stunts landing in a prone or inverted position
In addition, cheerleading injuries can generally be prevented or reduced by:
- Always wearing appropriate clothing and gym shoes
- Always using mats during practice
- Always doing adequate warm-up and stretching before practicing or performing
- Hiring well-trained, certified cheer coaches
- Ensuring that all cheering activities are supervised by a qualified adult
- Prohibiting cheerleaders from performing or training when sick, injured or exhausted
- Prohibiting cheerleaders from performing stunts they aren’t properly trained to do
- Ensuring that someone knowledgeable in CPR and first-aid is on-hand during cheering activities
- Ensuring that all cheerleaders, coaches and parents know the signs and symptoms of a potentially serious injury, including: swelling, numbness, tingling, tenderness over a bone, difficulty moving any body part.
What to do after suffering a cheerleading injury
Schools and cheer coaches should be held responsible for cheering accidents that could have been prevented. If you or your child has been injured in a cheerleading performance, speak to a Massachusetts cheerleading injury lawyer as soon as possible to preserve your rights. You may be entitled to compensation for past and future medical expenses (including rehabilitation care), lost wages and other income, and pain and suffering.
Peter Ventura is a Massachusetts cheerleading injury and sports lawyer dedicated to helping cheerleaders in the Massachusetts area recover compensation for serious injuries sustained during practice and performances. Call for a free consultation today at 508-755-7535 or contact us online.