As Cheerleaders Fly High, So Too Do Their Injuries

With football season well under way, it’s difficult not to think about players and their injuries—especially those of the concussive kind. What you may not realize is that cheerleaders are prone to the same type of injury.

This point is highlighted in a new study in the Journal of Pediatrics, which found that cheerleading is by far the most dangerous activity for female athletes—accounting for 66 percent of their injuries. Additionally, the study reports that more than a third of girls who suffer concussions don’t even recognize the symptoms well enough to report them.

The research comes on the heels of news stories documenting concussion-related brain injuries to pro football players, however, unlike football, cheerleading has not yet been deemed a “sport” by most high school athletic associations—an epic failure, says Dr. Jay Greenstein, CEO of Sport and Spine Rehab and the official team chiropractor for the Washington Redskins cheerleaders.

“This needs correcting,” he insists. “We’re at a critical junction here.”

Most catastrophic injuries did not occur to the “flyers” (the ones being thrown into the air), but rather those catching them on the ground. These injuries, according to the study, most likely accounted for the sharp increase of hospital emergency visits by cheerleaders, up from almost 5,000 in 1980 to more than 26,700 in 2007. In a big-picture scheme, these traumas can include permanent disabilities or long-term medical conditions.

With the sport’s stress to the body—and to the spine in particular—chiropractic care is becoming increasingly viewed by experts as an important part of cheerleaders’ preventive and post-injury care.

“Chiropractic treatment and functional injury prevention programs can and will improve recovery times and maximize performance,” says Dr. Greenstein, who is also a member of the not-for-profit Foundation for Chiropractic Progress.

To learn more, visit www.yes2chiropractic.org.

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