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IRVINE, CA, June 30, 2009 /24-7PressRelease/ -- The National Cheer Safety Foundation (NCSF) panel of experts, a collaborative effort of the nation's top sports medicine and safety leaders are calling on Congress to review injury study findings in cheerleading and youth sports.
A new study released by the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research at the University of North Carolina explains that what all cheerleading organizations should do is realize that cheerleading has had injury related problems, and strict safety measures should be adopted to remedy the situation. While 54 million female athletes participated in high school sports between 1982 and 2008 sustaining 39 catastrophic injuries, during that same period cheerleading had 73.
According to Frederick O. Mueller Ph.D. lead author of the study "the most important statistic is that high school cheerleading accounts for 65.2% of all the catastrophic injuries to female athletes which emphasizes the importance of safety regulations." He further adds, "The National Federation of State High School Associations and the NCAA should classify cheerleading as a sport which would place cheerleading under the same restrictions and safety rules as all other sports."
Recently released for 2008, the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System survey by the Consumer Products Safety Commission, emergency room visits among cheerleaders of all ages increased from 26,786 to 29,148, an 8.8% increase. Even more alarming are the emergency room visits for young cheerleaders thirteen years of age and under which have risen 110% since last year while listing injuries like a four year old with a cervical sprain, an injury you would normally see from a car accident.
"Our data has shown that forces involved in youth cheerleading falls from stunts can be greater than a hit in the NFL which can ultimately lead to the same type of catastrophic injuries," Cynthia Bir Ph.D., Wayne State University Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering and Director of Research, Orthopaedic Surgery.
Currently there are no funds for athlete safety programs from the Federal to the State governments. Funding by the Federal Government to State Governments for the following is key to insure athlete safety and prevention of athlete endangerment and abuse.
• State Agencies for Health and Family Services and Health Departments must intervene for youth athletes by collecting athlete injury and athlete endangerment data, setting policies, initiating athlete prevention, awareness and education campaigns. Federal laws affecting state proceedings must be enacted and funding must be designated to states for implementation by Health and Family Services and Health Departments
• Athletes must be educated to report their endangerment and abuses to parents and authorities
• Coaches must be educated to stop mistreating athletes and provide adequate supervision and utilize standard and duty of care.
• Doctors must be educated to report suspected serious athlete endangerment, abuse and injury after recognition during the treatment of an athlete.
• Parents and athletes who sign a sports participation waiver must be educated to modify the sports participation waiver with their signature "provided there is adequate coaching supervision" or state governments must modify the sports participation waiver with new law.
Further compelling evidence of the need for Congressional intervention are the high profile wrongful death lawsuits of football player Max Gilpin and cheerleader Ashley Burns in which both cases allege athlete abuse.
Youth sport safety advocate and founder of CAPPAA, Michael B. Minix Sr. M.D. adds, "athletes do not forfeit their human rights once they step within the boundary lines of the court, field or any coached sports environment. Any direct or indirect endangerment of a child athlete by a coach resulting in serious injury is unlawful and doctors are required by law to report suspected abuse to the proper authorities."
To learn more about athlete abuse and a physician duty to report suspected abuse www.nationalcheersafety.com/physiciansduty.pdf and for more information on the NCSF Cheering for Safety Summer Campaign go to www.nationalcheersafety.com/summer.pdf. The NCSF panel of experts will be busy all summer implementing the new programs, researching critical height and promoting cheer safety awareness.
"While some cheer the study and proclaim some sort of victory in cheer safety, cheerleading is still the number one cause of catastrophic injury to female athletes. Parents who have lived the nightmare of death, paralysis and traumatic brain injury will not rest until Congress steps in," proclaims Kimberly Archie, executive director of the National Cheer Safety Foundation (NCSF).
About the National Cheer Safety Foundation
The National Cheer Safety Foundation (NCSF) is dedicated to injecting science into cheer safety to reduce injury, disability and death from cheer injuries through research and education of parents, cheerleaders, coaches and administrators. For more information visit www.nationalcheersafety.com or contact us at 800-596-7860. To report cheer injuries go to www.cheerinjuryreport.com.
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