August 3, 2009

Cheerleading remains dangerous

Cheerleading is still the top cause of catastrophic injury in young female athletes, a U.S. physician says.

Dr. Amy Miller Bohn, a physician at the University of Michigan Health System, says data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission shows cheerleading injuries have gone from nearly 5,000 in 1980 to nearly 26,000 to 28,000 in the past few years. The latest figures mirror those from last year.

If participants want to be one of the better teams, compete at high levels and be invited to competitions, athletes must include a higher degree of difficulty and risk in routines, Miller Bohn said in a statement.

This means fewer traditional pyramids and more tossing people in the air, jumping off pyramids and trying risky stunts.

The increase in degree of difficulty in cheerleading skills, increased acrobatics and stunt activities may be increasing the risk of severity of injury, Miller Bohn says.

Catastrophic injuries seen in cheerleading involve either death or injuries that results in disability often related to head trauma or spine trauma. Other injuries include concussions and severe fractures.