Student Well-Being

Concussions Found to Be the Most Common H.S. Cheerleading Injury

By Bryan Toporek — December 10, 2015 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Concussions comprised nearly one-third of all high school cheerleading injuries, although concussion rates are far lower in cheerleading than in all other sports, according to a study published online Thursday in the journal Pediatrics.

The study analyzed high school cheerleading data from 2009-10 through 2013-14, with an average of 107 schools reporting data annually during the study period. Cheerleading ranked 18th of 22 high school sports in terms of injury rate, with 0.71 injuries per 1,000 athletic exposures—defined as each instance of a cheerleader participating in a practice or a competition. It ranked 19th in competition injury rates (0.85 per 1,000 athletic exposures) and 15th in practice injury rates (0.76 per 1,000). The overall injury rate for cheerleading was “significantly lower” than the rate of all other sports combined and all other girls’ sports combined, according to the study.

Of the 793 injuries reported during more than 1.1 million cheerleading exposures, concussions were the most common (245), followed by ligament sprains (159), “other” (134), muscle strains (112) and fractures (81). According to the data, “a significantly higher proportion of practice injuries were concussions compared with performance injuries.” To wit: 33.1 percent of all practice injuries were concussions, compared to just 27.7 percent of competition injuries. Ligament sprains, meanwhile, comprised 24.6 percent of competition injuries and just 19.3 percent of practice injuries.

While concussion rates are lower in general compared to all other sports combined, practice concussion rates were higher in cheerleading (2.51 per 10,000 athletic exposures) than in most sports. In fact, cheerleading ranked third behind only boys’ football (4.78 per 10,000) and wrestling (3.02 per 10,000). Concussion symptoms took more than six days to resolve in 44.2 percent of the reported concussions, and only 34.3 percent of cheerleaders were able to return from any injury within a week of suffering it. Among all injured cheerleaders, 40.7 percent took one to three weeks to return, 11.1 percent needed three weeks or more, and 5.1 percent were medically disqualified.

“These findings of low overall injury rates despite historically high catastrophic injury rates in cheerleading relative to other sports demonstrate that although cheerleading is relatively safe overall, when injuries do occur, they may be more severe,” the study authors concluded.

What cheerleading activities led to participants’ injuries? Unsurprisingly, stunts (53.2 percent) led the way, followed by tumbling (20.5 percent) and pyramids (10.8 percent). Stunts represented a majority of concussions (69.0 percent), while pyramids (15.7 percent) and tumbling (9.1 percent) trailed far behind.

Based on their findings, the study authors suggested focusing prevention efforts on “activities placing cheerleaders at risk for severe injuries. Understanding the epidemiology of cheerleading injuries is the important first step toward that goal.”

Related Tags:

A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.

Commenting has been disabled on effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
What’s Next for Teaching and Learning? Key Trends for the New School Year
The past 18 months changed the face of education forever, leaving teachers, students, and families to adapt to unprecedented challenges in teaching and learning. As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Student Well-Being Opinion Educators, Be Future-Ready, But Don’t Ignore the Present
Being ready for what lies ahead is important, but we also need to gain a better understanding of the here and now.
5 min read
shutterstock 226918177
Student Well-Being Opinion How to Prioritize Student Well-Being This Year
Use the Student Thriving Index to find out where your kids stand. Because you cannot manage what you cannot measure.
2 min read
Images shows a stylized artistic landscape with soothing colors.
Student Well-Being Spotlight Spotlight on Supporting Teachers & Students
In this Spotlight, evaluate your district and what supports your schools offer, assess attendance policies to avoid burnout, and more
Student Well-Being What the Research Says Child Hospitalizations Spike Under Delta, Particularly in Low-Vaccination States
Nationwide, the number of children and teens hospitalized due to COVID-19 has ballooned nearly tenfold since midsummer, new CDC data show.
2 min read
hopital stethescope 1222194507
Aleksandr Titov/iStock/Getty