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Tuesday 25th October 2016

Cheerleading tops sports injuries

18th August 2008

Catastrophic injuries are resulting, particularly for college women in the United States, from the apparently innocuous pastime of cheerleading.


The sport, which includes daredevil acrobatic manoeuvres like flips and pyramids, is responsible for 66.7% of catastrophic injuries among female athletes in the past 25 years.

It accounted for 65.1% of catastrophic injuries - which refers to fatal injuries and those leading to long-term disability or paralysis - among high school girls during the same period, a new study has found.

In a report prepared by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research, classify catastrophic injuries into three categories: fatal injuries; injuries that cause a severe permanent functional disability; and serious injuries such as a fractured cervical vertebra (broken neck) that do not cause a permanent disability.

Originally founded to look at injuries from American football, the study covers catastrophic injuries in both men's a women's sports on a year by year basis.

The aim is to analyse data and find way to reduce serious dangers in high school and college sports.

Cheerleading is largely responsible for a large increase in catastrophic injuries to women in recent year, study author and research centre director Frederick Mueller said.

Of 103 direct injuries to high school women in the study between 1982 and 2007, 67 were due to cheerleading.

Gymnastics trailed far behind, with just nine injuries, and track events numbering seven.

At college level, 26 out of 39 catastrophic injuries were caused by cheerleading, three by field hockey, two by gymnastics and two by lacrosse.

One of the most common causes was falls from pyramids of cheerleaders standing on each other's shoulders. Such falls led to concussions, skull fractures, paralysis, and death. Cheerleaders being tossed into the air and dropped, or doing backflips, were other highlighted causes of injury.

Mueller warned that increasing competitiveness among cheerleaders to perform daring moves could lead to a worsening of the problem, especially if qualified gymnastics coaches were not brought in to supervise moves.

The report called for a ban on pyramids over two levels, on mini-trampolines and flips and falls off pyramids, and for the involvement of properly trained coaches to manage stunts and gymnastic feats.


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