A 14-year-old cheerleader thought she would impress the coaches at her high school by performing a back tuck. She landed on her head, fracturing her neck. Now she is paralyzed from the neck down and breathes with the help of a ventilator. The young teen admits that there was no spotter nearby.
Cheerleading has become a competitive sport and is a leading cause of serious injury among high school and college girls. The days are gone when cheerleaders stood on the sidelines shouting “sis, boom, bah” and shaking pompons. Cheerleading has evolved into a strenuous sport that demands great strength, agility, and gymnastics skills.
There will always be the accidental cheerleading injuries, such as landing on an ankle sideways. But catastrophic injuries due to the increase in difficulty of the acrobatic routines and daring skills are preventable. Girls are being tossed high in the air, jumping off pyramids, and trying other risky stunts such as back flips, often without supervision. These injuries can also be the result of having an inexperienced spotter (the people who insure the safety of the participant) or the lack of spotters. The results can be devastating – head, back, and neck trauma, paralysis, or death.
Here are a few basic cheerleading safety tips to help prevent serious injuries.
· Coaches should be qualified and certified by the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators.
· Practices and events should be on foam mats; never on hard surfaces, asphalt, or uneven surfaces. A coach should always supervise stunts and jumps; spotters should always be on hand.
· Cheerleaders should wear rubber soled tennis shoes that provide cushion for the feet and knees.
· Before practices or events, each cheerleader should stretch and warm up to help prevent injury.
· Each cheerleader should have adequate of physical strength and conditioning, and be trained in gymnastics. The coach should be aware of each cheerleader’s skill level and only allow stunts and jumps based on ability. The same applies to spotters.
Mark Bello has thirty-three years experience as a trial lawyer and twelve years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide legal finance cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed while a personal injury lawsuit in pending in the civil justice system. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Business Associate of the Florida, Tennessee, and Colorado Associations for Justice, a member of the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series—Mark Bello is also the CEO of Lawsuit Financial and the country’s leading expert in providing non-recourse lawsuit funding to plaintiffs involved in pending litigation. He is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.