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J Athl Train. 2009 Nov-Dec;44(6):578-85. doi: 10.4085/1062-6050-44.6.578.

Epidemiology of cheerleading fall-related injuries in the United States.

Author information

1
Center for Injury Research and Policy, The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital, 700 Children's Drive, Columbus, OH 43205, USA. brenda.shields@nationwidechildrens.org

Abstract

CONTEXT:

Over the past several decades, cheerleaders have been performing fewer basic maneuvers and more gymnastic tumbling runs and stunts. As the difficulty of these maneuvers has increased, cheerleading injuries have also increased.

OBJECTIVE:

To describe the epidemiology of cheerleading fall-related injuries by type of cheerleading team and event.

DESIGN:

Prospective injury surveillance study.

SETTING:

Participant exposure and injury data were collected from US cheerleading teams via the Cheerleading RIO (Reporting Information Online) surveillance tool.

PATIENTS OR OTHER PARTICIPANTS:

Athletes from 412 enrolled cheerleading teams who participated in official, organized cheerleading practices, pep rallies, athletic events, or cheerleading competitions.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE(S):

The numbers and rates of cheerleading fall-related injuries during a 1-year period (2006-2007) are reported.

RESULTS:

A total of 79 fall-related injuries were reported during the 1-year period. Most occurred during practice (85%, 67/79) and were sustained by high school cheerleaders (51%, 40/79). A stunt or pyramid was being attempted in 89% (70/79) of cases. Fall heights ranged from 1 to 11 ft (0.30-3.35 m) (mean = 4.7 + or - 2.0 ft [1.43 + or - 0.61 m]). Strains and sprains were the most common injuries (54%, 43/79), and 6% (5/79) of the injuries were concussions or closed head injuries. Of the 15 most serious injuries (concussions or closed head injuries, dislocations, fractures, and anterior cruciate ligament tears), 87% (13/15) were sustained while the cheerleader was performing on artificial turf, grass, a traditional foam floor, or a wood floor. The fall height ranged from 4 to 11 ft (1.22-1.52 m) for 87% of these cases (13/15).

CONCLUSIONS:

Cheerleading-related falls may result in severe injuries and even death, although we report no deaths in the present study. The risk for serious injury increases as fall height increases or as the impact-absorbing capacity of the surfacing material decreases (or both).

KEYWORDS:

athletic injuries; collegiate athletes; elite athletes; high school athletes; injury surveillance; youth athletes

PMID:
19911083
PMCID:
PMC2775358
DOI:
10.4085/1062-6050-44.6.578
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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