Thursday, June 27, 2013

Texas Physicians Help Make Cheerleading Safer

To improve the safety of student athlete cheerleaders in Texas, the Texas Medical Association helped convince state officials to adopt rules to reduce cheerleaders’ risk of concussions.

Earlier this month, the University Interscholastic League (UIL) Legislative Council followed its Medical Advisory Committee recommendations and voted to require cheerleaders to comply with state law on prevention, treatment, and oversight of concussions. Cheerleading coaches and sponsors must now be trained on safety guidelines to minimize the risk.

TMA urged UIL to improve cheerleading safety back in January. “Concussions and other serious injuries are a risk in physical activities such as cheerleading as well as in traditional contact sports,” Jason Terk, MD, and Gilbert Handal, MD, told UIL officials in a letter. “National data on injuries associated with cheerleading, and some recent projections on the risk and incidence of cheerleading injuries, are alarming.”

Strengthening UIL oversight of cheerleading programs “will help guarantee that participants and leaders throughout the state are trained in proper techniques, are informed about the signs and symptoms of concussions, and follow a process for consistently reporting injuries,” wrote Drs. Terk and Handal.

TMA advocates for stronger UIL oversight of cheerleading programs; promotes educational programs for students, coaches, and physicians; and encourages doctors to get involved in local development of policies and strategies focusing on injury prevention through school health advisory councils.

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