Cheerleading accounts for two-thirds of sports injuries to girls

August 12th, 2008 - 11:28 am ICT by IANS  


Washington, Aug 12 (IANS) Cheerleading accounts for a larger proportion of severe sporting injuries sustained by high school and college athletes than previously thought. The latest report from the National Centre for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research showed that cheerleading accounted for 65.1 percent of all catastrophic sports injuries among high school females over the past 25 years.

Previously, the figure was believed to be 55 percent, but new data included in this year’s survey indicates that the true number of cheerleading injuries appears to be higher.

The story is the same for college participants as well. New data showed cheerleading accounted for 66.7 percent of all female catastrophic injuries, compared to past estimates of 59.4 percent.

National Centre’s director, Frederick O. Mueller, professor of exercise and sports science in University of North Carolina, who has authored the report since it was first published in 1982, said catastrophic injuries to female athletes have increased over the years.

“A major factor in this increase has been the change in cheerleading activity, which now involves gymnastic-type stunts,” Mueller said. “If these cheerleading activities are not taught by a competent coach and keep increasing in difficulty, catastrophic injuries will continue to be a part of cheerleading.”

Between 1982 and 2007, there were 103 fatal, disabling or serious injuries recorded among female high school athletes, with the vast majority (67) occurring in cheerleading. No other sports registered double-figure tallies; gymnastics (nine) and track (seven) had the second and third highest totals, respectively.

Among college athletes, there have been 39 such injuries: 26 in cheerleading, followed by three in field hockey and two each in lacrosse and gymnastics.

In 2007, two catastrophic injuries to female high school cheerleaders were reported, down from 10 in the previous season, and the lowest number since 2001. However, there were three catastrophic injuries to college-level participants, up from one in 2006.

Mueller said catastrophic sporting injuries may never be totally eliminated, but collecting and constantly analysing reliable injury data can help reduce them dramatically.

According to the report, almost 95,200 female students take part in high school cheerleading in the US annually, along with about 2,150 males.

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