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Cheerleading is Dangerous and Parents Should Know that Brain Injuries are a Real Concern as the Sport Evolves

Cheerleading has become an increasingly competitive sport but along with that comes an increase in disabling injuries. Instead of just waving pompoms from the sidelines, cheerleading has evolved into complicated dance and gymnastic routines (Most Dangerous Sport of all May be Cheerleading, ABC, January 10, 2010).

Concussions, sprains, and back injuries account for the majority of injuries in cheerleading. With all the lifting, tumbling and dismounting, a slight miscalculation in movement could lead to any one of these injuries in just seconds. Stress fractures to the vertebrae can be painful and usually occur over time with repeated stress to the spine. Concussions have been happening on a more frequent basis as moves become more complex and as the sport becomes more high contact with tumbling moves and tossing teammates into the. (Children’s Hospital Colorado Orthopedics Institute, Sports Injuries We Treat-Cheerleading).

Eleven-year-old Miller Olson is part of a team from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and is involved in competitive cheerleading: “Teams train intensely in dance, tumbling and gymnastics, and compete an average of six times a year. The point, as Miller explains, is not to stand on the sidelines. All-star cheer is a sport in which teams train to compete against each other. Although competitive cheerleading has garnered attention for its potential for catastrophic injuries – flyers can be tossed up to 20 feet in the air – the majority of serious injuries occur in participants at the college level who are doing more difficult stunts.” (Cheer perfection: Vancouver Sun, April 13, 2014).

“Cheerleading is a year-round sport without much of an off-season to rest,” states Frank N. Darras, America’s top disability insurance lawyer.“Cheerleaders train and perform in competitions throughout the year, which means there are more chances for a disabling injury that could end their cheering career and result in expensive medical costs. Many of us have never thought of cheerleading as a sport so injury intensive but when you look at the many competitions, the number of accidents is eye-opening.”

According to the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injuries, cheerleading injuries account for more than half of all the high school and college female athletic injuries. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reported over 36,000 hospital ER visits in 2010 were due to cheerleading injuries. To put this in perspective, in 1980 there were only about 5,000 hospital ER visits due to cheerleading injuries (Catastrophic Sports Injuries, UNC, Spring 2011).

“With this dramatic increase in cheerleading injuries, disability insurance has become a necessity for all professional cheerleaders. Talk with your insurance agent to decide if this program could work for you as a professional,” says Darras.

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