Ever had a head injury from cheer? It could be affecting you today, right now as you read this. It could affect you in a year or in ten years. A head injury doesn't have to follow you through life if you report it. Read on to find out the latest news about concussions and the scary side of cheer injuries.

Finally, the public is realizing that cheerleading is more than girls in a cheer uniform jumping around. Even youth squads are incorporating tumbling and stunts in their routines. In the last few months, cheerleading safety has been a big topic for doctors. Several doctor organizations and counsels have discussed how crucial it is to reduce and prevent injuries incurred by cheerleaders, especially concussions.

Many doctors believe that, by recognizing cheerleading as a sport, safety regulations will be set in place and coaches, schools, and gyms will have to legally abide by those rules. Until that happens, many cheer injuries aren't reported "“ a major concern since already cheerleading is considered the second most dangerous school sport (after football).

According to a new study in the Journal of Pediatrics, cheerleaders under-report concussions. The study focused on high school cheerleaders, particularly juniors and seniors. Doctors believe that many cheerleaders don't report injuries that they should. Their hunch was right. The study showed that 37% of the cheerleaders who didn't report increased symptoms from injuries didn't report other injuries either. This can lead to serious consequences "“ especially head injuries, which can later result in decreased memory, slower motor skills, delayed reaction times, and more.

While doctors believe many athletes in general don't report a lot of injuries, they believe cheerleaders are at a higher risk. As we know, two-thirds of catastrophic injuries in sports are from cheerleading. To be considered a catastrophic injury, one must have incurred such a severe injury that he/she is left permanently disabled, has long-lasting medical conditions, or has a shortened life expectancy.

What's worse, cheerleading injuries are only increasing. In 1980, there were 4,954 cheer-related emergency department visits. In 2007, that number jumped to 26,786. That's a 500% jump in less than three decades.

While many believe flyers are most at risk for injuries, bases and spotters are the positions experiencing concussions. Around 6% of cheer injuries are concussions and 96% of the time those concussions occur when a cheerleader is basing or spotting someone. And that's just at the high school level. At the college level, that number increases five fold.

As a result of the study, doctors are concerned with how little head injuries are controlled. Proper safety regulations aren't set in place, putting the athlete at risk. Cheerleaders are performing stunts on floors or in places that aren't suitable and many cheer coaches don't have access to classes that teach them how to keep their squads safe.

We can only hope this study pushes more organizations and schools (like the NCAA) in the direction of recognizing cheerleading as a serious and dangerous sport. Cheerleading isn't just about waving pom poms in pleated skirts anymore.

We also hope this serves as a lesson for all cheerleaders. Always report an injury or increased symptoms from an injury. What you think is a small bump on the head could be a concussion that later affects your learning abilities. We understand how many cheerleaders are afraid the coach or their doctor will bench them for the season. Reporting an injury doesn't necessarily mean you can't keep cheering; it just means you may need to take it easy for a couple weeks. Cheer smart and stay safe.

A great resource for information and news concerning injuries and safety is the National Cheer Safety Foundation. Check it out here!

News Source: New York Times
Let's start a discussion! Have you had a cheer-related injury? Do you always report your injuries to a coach, parent, or doctor? How does your squad stay safe during stunts?