High School Cheerleading Injuries and the Functional Movement Screen as an Injury Predictor

April 30, 2014

Over the course of the last 9 months, I have spent significant time researching two topics: Cheerleading injuries and the Functional Movement Screen (FMS). This has culminated in my Capstone Project with the above title. Today I’m pleased to share with you my project. I would certainly be remiss if I did not thank the cheerleaders at Waterloo High School and their coach Amber Hensiek, my mentors Ashley Rockey and Dr. Carlen Mulholland, and the program director at the University of South Florida Dr. Rebecca Lopez. Without all of their help, this project would not have been possible. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions you may have and I’ll try to answer them to the best of my ability!

 

Injury prevention is a mainstay in the athletic training profession and something that we attempt to achieve on a daily basis. Identifying exactly why and how the injury rates can be improved must be a priority. National injury surveillance programs have been developed that help researchers to track these injury rates if that sport is included in the particular interests of the study.

Cheerleading has long fought to be recognized as a sport, which caused it to be excluded from national sports injury surveillance programs for many years. Additionally, rules and regulations have long lagged behind the sport itself in terms of safety. There are national associations such as the National Cheer Safety Foundation and the National Cheer Association who have attempted to improve the safety of the sport, but much work remains. Cheerleading is no longer the cheerleading mothers and grandmothers grew up with girls on the sideline leading the cheers of victory. Instead, the sport has become a competitive activity with similarities to gymnastics combined with team spirit1. Many cheerleaders were at one time gymnasts and these girls have brought those skills and experiences to the cheerleading competition mat. Competitive cheer and gymnastics share many risks and rewards. One of these risks is the increased opportunity for serious injury. Absent serious injury, cheerleading also causes numerous less severe injuries such as sprains and strains on a regular basis. It has been noted that while cheerleaders do not suffer injuries at the same rate as other athletes, the percentage of catastrophic injury is much higher than other female sports at the high school level1,2.

If you want to read the whole thing, you can download the paper FinalDraftCapstone.

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