Study: Cheerleading among nation’s safest sports

A new study has concluded that cheerleading is among the nation’s safest sports, though when injuries do occur they are likely more severe.

Study shows that cheerleading is among the safest sports.
Study shows that cheerleading is among the safest sports.

The study was conducted by researchers from the Colorado School of Public Health at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. They found that 752 female cheerleader injuries occurred in 1,090,705 “athletic exposures,” or one athlete participating in one practice, competition or performance. Most injuries took place during practice.

“We found that cheerleading is actually relatively safe compared to the other high school sports we studied, ranking 18th out of the 22 sports we looked at in terms of overall injury rate,” said lead author Dustin Currie, a researcher and doctoral student at the Colorado School of Public Health at CU Anschutz.

The study was published in Pediatrics journal and is considered the first to examine the injury epidemiology of high school cheerleading compared to other sports.

Though research found a relatively low rate of injuries, it did discover that injuries tend to be more severe. Cheerleading had the second highest proportion of injuries resulting in time loss of at least three weeks.

The most common injuries were concussions at 31.1%, ligament sprains at 20.2%, muscle strains at 14.2% and fractures at 10.3%. Surgery was required for 4% of the injuries, mostly for fractures and sprains.

Male cheerleaders had significantly higher injury rates at 25 per 18,784 athletic exposures.

The majority of injuries occurred during stunts, often during dismounts.

Most states are beginning to sanction cheerleading as an official sport. California did it in October (beginning with the 2017-18 school year), and Colorado also considers it a sport.

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