When most people think about concussions they only allow one sport to enter their mind: football. As we have documented numerous times before, football is just one of the many athletic activities that put athletes at risk for sustaining a concussion. Much of the general public thinks that the male athletes are the only ones suffering concussions, though that is not the case whatsoever; females are just as susceptible. According to Dr. Comstock, of the Ohio State University College of Medicine, girls suffer concussions at a higher rate than males.
One specific activity has been shown to have a significant rate of injury in females (and what most people will be surprised to learn) is cheerleading.
The question as to whether cheerleading qualifies to be recognized as a sport continues to be debated, but from my perspective (and what others should consider) it does not matter. The athletes involved in cheerleading should be provided the same health care that other athletes are provided with; they should be treated the same. There is no doubt in my mind that these girls (and boys) perform very intricate techniques and are at serious risk of injury.
New Jersey has recently passed a law requiring schools to implement a head injury safety training program which must be completed by the school physician, an athletic trainer, and all of the coaches involved. The issue is that cheerleading is not considered a sport by NJSIAA or the NFHS. For this reason, cheerleading coaches are not required to complete this training program. Schools must make sure that these coaches are included, for it is important for them to recognize the dangers and risks of concussions with regards to their individual sport.
Patrick Diegan, an assemblyman who played a role in the legislation, stated…
“At every sporting event, there is a possibility of an athlete sustaining a concussion.”
It is time that administrators, parents, coaches, and athletes understand concussions are an athletic issue. They are not only a football problem or a hockey problem; they are potential threats to any sport at any age. We must continue to work not only in the prevention of concussions, but also in the proper management of the injury overall.
Every athlete deserves an athletic trainer.