Young Athlete Injuries Increasing As Popularity Of Sports Grows
Today’s brand of cheerleading defies gravity and requires expert tumbling skills.
Taylor Barney is an All-Star Cheer Competitor who says it gives you an adrenaline rush.
It’s a rush that doesn’t come without risk. It’s the same for other sports.
Barney must use tape and ice. She’s suffered a torn lateral meniscus.
“It slipped in between knee cap and tore,” explained Barney.
In the last five years, visits for cheerleading injuries increased fifteen fold at the Nationwide Children's Hospital Sports Medicine Clinic.
Cheer Center owner Pam Puckett points to the sport's growth and its demands.
She says there is an increased chance for injuries because the difficulty has increased.
“The goal is to balance out the safety regulations with the difficulty,” said Puckett. “We do a lot of core work to strengthen their backs, and we are constantly training to make sure they know the proper technique of every stunt.”
But doctors offer caution.
“Doing the same activity over and over and over definitely puts these joints and bones at greater risk,” said Dr. Thomas Pommering.
A lot of kids who cheer do it year round. The same goes for soccer.
“It’s becoming the norm. Unlike a generation ago when you had three sport letter winners, we have more specialists today. Kids see it, the bar is raised,” said professional athletic counselor Dr. Chris Stankovich.
Kylie Harper has lived "the bar." She got into soccer in elementary school. She says she loves it because it is a team sport.
Not wanting to let that team down, Harper has played through most of a recent season with chronic pain.
“It was on my fibula. It was a stress fracture,” she said. “At the end it was painful, every step sometimes. I'd be sitting, and it was aching.
The injury forced her to take a three-month break from her year-round schedule.
Her mom says it taught them a lesson:
“Probably to give a little more time between seasons to repair muscles and injuries,” said Julie Harper.
Doctors suggest giving a growing body two to three months off and filling the time with flexibility and strength training for muscle group balance and injury prevention.
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