When many people think of cheerleading, they picture young women cheering and waving pom-poms on the sidelines at athletic events. In recent years, however, cheering has become an increasingly demanding and potentially dangerous activity. Human pyramids as well as tossing and flipping young girls in the air can be hazardous. Over the last 20 years, the number of cheer-related injuries has allegedly risen dramatically. Consequently, a number of pediatricians in Illinois and throughout the nation reportedly believe cheering should be considered a sport in order to improve the safety of its participants.
In October, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement in the Journal of Pediatrics that advocated for cheerleading to be designated a sport. According to the physicians, better supervision, practice time limits, more qualified coaches, and other safety rules would be required if the activity were deemed a sport. The policy also states cheerleaders should be required to undergo a physical prior to joining a cheer squad and conditioning exercises should be required.
According to the author of the policy, Dr. Cynthia LaBella, most people are unaware of the evolution cheerleading has undergone in the last several decades. Participants often experience sprains, torn ligaments and tendons, broken bones, head injuries, and neck injuries. LaBella stated although injuries in other sports generally outnumber those experienced by high school cheerleaders, the rate for catastrophic injuries like skull fractures and paralyzing spinal cord injuries is higher in cheerleaders. Unfortunately, a significant injury such as a concussion may be easily overlooked by untrained coaches.
According to data cited in the American Academy of Pediatrics policy, there are more than 3 million cheerleaders over age six in the United States. In 2011, nearly 37,000 cheerleaders between the ages of six and 22 reportedly visited an emergency room as a result of a cheer-related injury. Consumer Product Safety Commission data shows that number has risen fourfold since 1980.
The Illinois High School Association reportedly now deems competitive cheerleading a sport. This means some level of safety and oversight is provided for high school cheer squad participants. Still, a cheerleading participant may be unexpectedly and catastrophically injured at any time. Oftentimes, injuries result from inadequately trained cheerleaders and coaches. A severe head, neck, or spinal cord injury can affect a cheer participant’s ability to think, walk, or even move their limbs. Even a seemingly mild concussion may impair a victim’s cognitive abilities for life. If your child was hurt while cheering, a skilled personal injury lawyer can explain your options for recovery.
If your minor child was injured while participating in a school activity or sport, the attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. are here to help. Our diligent Chicago area personal injury lawyers are available 24 hours a day, seven days per week to help you file your injury case. For a free consultation with a dedicated and committed personal injury attorney, do not hesitate to contact Abels & Annes, P.C. through the law firm’s website or give us a call at (312) 475-9596.
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