A recent study highlights the risks of “catastrophic injury” in cheerleading, and says that cheerleaders are under-reporting concussion symptoms–but what do the facts and figures really mean?
The study, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, used a computer-based cognitive testing system called ImPACT (Immediate Postconcussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) to obtain a baseline measurement of cheerleaders’ cognitive performance at the beginning of the season. The same testing was used again after concussion injuries.
The study found that when measured objectively, even athletes who report being “symptom-free” often still have neurocognitive deficits.
“Given these results, it is of concern that most return-to-play decisions after concussion have relied heavily on the athlete’s self- report of symptoms,” the study authors noted. “This study demonstrates that even athletes who report being symptom-free may continue to exhibit neurocognitive deficits of which they are either unaware or are failing to report. Furthermore, our data suggest that if neurocognitive testing is unavailable, then the treating physician should be cautious in returning athletes to play based on their self-report of symptoms alone.”
One of the reasons this study is getting so much attention is that the researchers also cited other studies we already knew about, which highlight significant risks associated with cheerleading.
But is cheerleading really that much riskier than other sports? Let’s take a closer look at the facts behind cheerleading injuries and concussions.
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