Cheerleaders ‘tumbling’ into high injury rates

By Danielle Feole
September 25, 2008

Megan Pellegrino

Cheerleading is in the running for one of the most dangerous sports; who would have thought? A new study says that cheerleading causes 65.1 percent of female high school athlete injuries and 66.7 percent of female college athlete injuries.

According to HealthDay, Center Director Frederick O. Mueller, a professor of exercise and sports science who’s authored the annual report since it began in 1982, said catastrophic injuries to female athletes have increased over the years.

“It’s amazing how many kids cheer, which is the reason there are so many injuries,” Cabrini’s Cheerleading coach Dee Kitzinger said.

This is Kitzinger’s second year coaching the Cavaliers.

“There has been one minor bump in the head in two years,” Kitzinger said.

The NCAA made many regulations and guidelines to prohibit cheerleading stunts. If the coaching is done properly and the cheerleaders follow the appropriate rules, it should eliminate unnecessary accidents.

“Girls get hurt when they go outside the limits they are allowed,” junior occupational therapy and psychology major Mandee Bowes said.

According to HealthDay, between 1982 and 2007, there were 103 fatal, disabling or serious injuries recorded among female high school athletes. The vast majority of those occurred in cheerleading. During that same period, there were 39 such injuries among female college athletes, including 26 in cheerleading.

“In high school, I ruptured my ACL and tore my meniscus. I was tumbling, when a spotter fell and I came out of a twist and hyper-extended my knee,” Bowes said.

In 2006, a cheerleading accident got much attention in the media. Kristi Yamaoka, a sophomore at the time, attending Southern Illinois University, fell head-first from approximately 10 feet in the air, during her squad’s time-out routine. Yamaoka suffered from a concussion and chipped vertebra, but continued to cheer her way out of the stadium while on a stretcher.

“This brought cheer injuries to the forefront. Any agency that could jump on board did,” Kitzinger said.

“A major factor has been the change in cheerleading activity, which now involves gymnastic-type stunts. 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,” Mueller said in a university news release.

Every sport has its downfalls and injuries, it’s how the sport is taught and regulated that puts restrictions on the aggression and creates a cautious atmosphere for the players and coaches.

“Anybody can be a coach; it’s whether you put the time into it and create a safe environment,” Kitzinger said.

Danielle Feole

Scroll to Top
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap