Reports that 65.2 percent of all catastrophic injuries to female athletes occur in high school cheerleading have led to efforts from the United States Sports Academy and the National Cheer Safety Foundation (NCSF) to educate cheer coaches.

“Cheer safety education based on sports sciences is crucial in reducing catastrophic and over-use injuries in cheerleading,” said NCSF President and CEO Kimberly Archie. “Those involved need to insist that coaches are educated and trained to properly care for young athletes.”

The NCSF will use the Academy’s sports coaching program as a way to educate cheer coaches. The NCSF campaign has also gained support from the National Council for Spirit Safety and Education (NCSSE).

“Sport education based on the sports sciences is the key to managing catastrophic sports injuries,” said Dr. Enrico Esposito, the Academy’s Chair of Sports Medicine. “Qualified, certified personnel are the first requirement for ensuring the health and safety of young athletes involved in physical activity and sports.”

A study released by the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research at the University of North Carolina, which recommended strict safety measures to be adopted, showed that the catastrophic injury rate of high school cheerleaders over the past 26 years has been nearly twice that of all other female high school sports combined.

The lead author of that report was Dr. Frederick O. Mueller. Dr. Mueller and Dr. Herb Appenzeller are leading educators on sports law and injury, who, along with Elizabeth Appenzeller, recently co-authored a book on legal aspects of cheerleading that will be used as a resource in the Academy’s program.

In 2008, the National Electric Injury Surveillance System survey by the Consumer Products Safety Commission reported that emergency room visits among cheerleaders of all ages increased from 26,786 to 29,148 (8.8 percent). Those numbers include a 110 percent one-year increase in visits from cheerleaders age 13 and under.

According to Dr. Cynthia Bir, Director of Research and Orthopedic Surgery for the Wayne State University Department of Biomedical Engineering, young cheerleaders receive injuries from falls that can “have a greater impact than a hit in the NFL.”

The NCSF is dedicated to introducing science in cheer safety to reduce injury, disability and death from cheer injuries through research and education of parents, cheerleaders, coaches and administrators.