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Doctors throw red flags at minimal safety rules for daring cheerleader stunts

Published: Monday, July 27 2015 9:42 p.m. MDT

Brigham Young University cheerleaders warm up before BYU plays San Jose State at the Lavell Edwards Stadium in Provo. As cheerleading stunts become more breathtaking, the trips to the emergency room are increasing. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News) Brigham Young University cheerleaders warm up before BYU plays San Jose State at the Lavell Edwards Stadium in Provo. As cheerleading stunts become more breathtaking, the trips to the emergency room are increasing. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

Nowadays, it's not uncommon to see high school cheerleaders throwing each other for flips in the air and making gaspingly tall pyramids. The more breathtaking the better, seems to be the thought process. However, these stunts are increasingly sending many young high school girls to the emergency room.

"The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) reports that since 2007, 26,000 injuries related to cheerleading have occurred in the U.S. every year," wrote Connie K. Ho, for RedOrbit. "As well, over the past 25 years, cheerleading has caused 66 percent of all 'catastrophic injuries' for female high school athletes."

Members of the AAP wrote a new policy statement released Tuesday, saying that cheerleading should be recognized as an official sport.

By not classifying it as a sport, "cheerleading is not subject to the same rules and regulations as activities that are officially considered a sport," according to ABC News.

"Cheerleading has become extremely competitive in the past few years, incorporating more complex skills than ever before," said Dr. Cynthia LaBella, co-author to the new policy released by AAP, to RedOrbit. LaBella works as a sports medicine specialist, at Chicago's Lurie Children's Hospital. "Relatively speaking, the injury rate is low compared to other sports, but despite the overall lower rate, the number of catastrophic injuries continues to climb. That is an area of concern and needs attention for improving safety."

AAP included in the statement suggested standards for cheerleading inluding requiring more qualified coaches to be in charge of cheerleading and allowing "better access to medical care and injury surveillance," according Time. Among other standards, cheerleaders would be better trained on spotting techniques, and stunts should be performed only on foam floors and not hard or wet surfaces.

Cheerleading has evolved over the years, becoming more daring than simply doing a few jumps on the sideline to get the crowd going. "It's also widely popular, with more than 500,000 high school girls are cheerleading at sport events or on competitive cheer teams," according to Nancy Shute from NPR.

With the changes in cheerleading that have occurred in recent years, changes in supervision and standards need to follow to keep the hospital visits low.

Email: ehong@desnews.com Twitter: @erinhong

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