AAP issues guidelines to help prevent cheerleading injuries

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New Orleans – The number of “catastrophic” cheerleading injuries is on the rise even though the overall injury rate is lower than for other sports, according to a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

In a policy statement issued Oct. 22, AAP noted that injuries have increased as cheerleading changed from a game-day activity to a year-round competitive sport.

Since 2007, 26,000 cheerleading injuries have occurred each year. The main types are sprains and strains to the lower limbs, as well as head and neck injuries.

AAP called for cheerleading to be designated a sport so cheerleaders have access to qualified coaches, medical care and injury surveillance. Other recommendations include:

  • Cheerleaders should be trained in spotting techniques and not try stunts until they demonstrate appropriate skill progression.
  • Partner stunts should be performed on a spring/foam floor or grass/turf.
  • Cheerleaders believed to have a head injury should not return to practice until they are cleared by a health professional.

The policy statement was published online in the journal Pediatrics.

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