Girl athletes at high risk of head injuries, especially cheerleaders
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Studies show that young women and girls have a higher rate of concussions than boys in the sports they both play and cheerleaders especially are at high risk.
This weekend 10,000 cheer and dance athletes will compete at the Kentucky Expo Center in the World Spirit Federation competition.
While concussions are a risk in any sport, cheer parents said they keep an extra close eye when it comes to cheerleading.
The skills are impressive. "All of these girls, they are amazing some of the stuff they can do," said Chris Orman, cheer dad.
They flip and fly through the air while performing advanced routines.
"It really is incredible with how much the skill level has increased over the past few years," said Tayler Easton with Varsity All Star, host of the competition.
Like with any high intensity sport comes the possibility of injuries, which is why coaches and competition organizers are required to be trained to watch closely.
"Every where you look you are going to see a staff member and they are ready for everything," said Easton.
One major thing they are looking out for are concussions. Research shows despite widespread coverage, damage from concussions is underestimated and blows to the head suffered by young athletes often go unreported.
Many cheer parents said this is something they worry about. "I think there are some concerns that should be addressed when it comes to it. I think they should wear helmets, but the girls are not going to wear helmets, I'll tell you that much," joked Mike Podelnyk, cheer dad.
According to an in dept report by NBC News, the number of athletes aged 19 and younger who were treated for serious head injuries rose from 150,000 in 2001 to a quarter million in 2009 in all sports.
Easton said Varsity All Star enforces coaching training, something that has made a huge impact recently.
"It is amazing to see how concussions have been decreasing over the past few years mostly because of the training and certifications we have in place," said Easton.
That alone puts a lot of parents at ease.
"They train the girls how to fall," said Mary Podelnyk, cheer mom. "They train them to how to hit their heads, so even if their bases give out or they make a mistake they train them how to fall properly."
Teams are vying to qualify for World Championship and Summit bids, the two largest cheerleading competitions in the country.
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