With New York State lawmakers considering a ban on preteens playing tackle football in schools due to serious head injuries, the issue of cheerleader concussions may also come to mind. A study conducted by the American Association of Pediatrics revealed that cheerleading is the second most dangerous sport behind football for sustaining concussions during practice.
As reported by Newsweek magazine, researchers discovered that for every 10,000 athletic exposures during cheerleading practice, 3.6 resulted in a serious head injury. While the rate for football practice showed the highest risks of concussions with 5.01 injuries out of 10,000 athletic exposures, cheerleaders face a higher chance of sustaining severe head trauma.
Lack of adequate safety equipment
Overall, approximately 36% of young athletes suffer a concussion while practicing a sport, as noted by the AAP study. Because many schools do not recognize cheerleading as an official sport, lack of an adequate budget and often minimal resources contribute to athletes practicing on hard surfaces or without proper safety equipment.
As the sport of cheerleading evolves to include tumbling, acrobatics and human-pyramid weightlifting, the risk of injuries occurring during practice has increased. The rate of injuries occurring during competitions appears lower because cheerleaders compete at venues that provide safety equipment and environmental protections such as floor mats. Even with sufficient safety equipment, however, cheerleaders tend to suffer from a high number of head and neck injuries, including serious concussions and traumatic brain injuries.
Symptoms of a traumatic brain injury
The general symptoms of a traumatic brain injury include headaches, sensitivity to light and confusion. As reported by the Cheer Safe organization, some warnings signs that a cheerleader has suffered a serious concussion include:
- Loss of balance
- Low coordination
- Memory problems
How a legal action may help recover
A traumatic brain injury may require extensive medical treatment, physical therapy and rehabilitation. When the failure to provide adequate safety results in serious head trauma, an athlete may require legal action to ensure that he or she receives full compensation for medical care, recovery time and possible long-term effects.