Concussions a risk for cheerleaders, gymnasts

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Most parents of football players know their children are at risk of concussions. The sport itself is becoming increasingly more aware of the risk and implementing new training.

But what about the activity on the sidelines that’s long been debated whether it’s a sport or not? That’s cheerleading.

As it turns out, a study suggests that 31 percent of cheerleading injuries are concussions. Both cheerleading and gymnastics are sports with no helmets. Coaches say they’re trained to know signs of concussions and how to handle them.

“Concussions are nothing to take lightly,” said Kara Holmes.

No matter what sport you play, accidents can happen on the field, on the court, or the gym practicing gymnastics.

“When you start teaching kids how to flip and they are not always completely aware of where their body is in space, then they have the chance of over rotating,” explained Holmes.

About 400,000 students in the United States participate in high school cheerleading each year, not including those involved in competitive squads. When they do pyramids, tosses and jumps, they’re at risk.

“They can easily land and hurt their head,” said Latangee Knight, Injury Prevention Program Coordinator.  “And with cheerleading, they don’t have a helmet on.”

“Making sure that they are appropriately spread apart and making sure they aren’t playing around because more often than not, those are situations that cause unfavorable outcomes,” said Holmes, who added that the pal program makes coaches go through online training to make sure everyone knows the signs of a concussion. “Looking in their eyes, those are instant warning signs of a concussion. Do they feel sick? Are they lethargic?”

It’s up to parents and coaches to make sure that safety comes first.

“We can’t have positive outcomes without safety,” said Holmes.Copyright 2016 WNCT

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