Is Cheerleading a Threat to Young Athletes?

The other day, I posted a blog on this web site about cheerleading injuries. The topic is so important because of the increase in catastrophic, life-altering injuries due to cheerleading accidents, that I will report periodically on the issue. Last month, a Florida pediatric orthopedic physician at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital accused some cheerleading coaches of putting style over safety. His comment came after he treated a 6-year-old girl who suffered a fractured shoulder when she was tossed in the air as part of a routine but eluded her teammates on the way down, striking the mat. The physician, Dr. Stephen Storer, explained that the small girls who are tossed about during a cheerleading routine are called "flyers." They can be tossed as much as 15 to 20 feet high. According to Dr. Storer, cheerleading results in more catastrophic injuries such as brain damage, paralysis or death, than a contact sport such as football. It is important that experts such as Dr. Storer speak out about a serious health problem that is only now coming to light. When one hears of 6-year-olds being tossed into the air like caps at a commencement ceremony, it is obvious that the adults who run cheerleading teams and exhibitions need to take stock of elements of the sport that cause the most severe injuries and begin - right now - to eliminate or modify those that are excessively dangerous.

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