A concussion is an injury to the brain resulting from an impact to the head. Concussions are a risk for any athlete, but are a particular concern for those participating in cheerleading due to the nature of the activity involving height, inversion and rotation of the body as well as physical interaction and contact with other team members.
The Warning Signs of A Concussion
Coaches, parents and cheerleaders need to be alert to the warning signs of a concussion. If a cheerleader suffers a forceful bump or blow to the head or body, or if there is any change in a cheerleader’s behavior, response time or performance, look for the following signs:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Coordination or balance issues
- Blurred or double vision
- Light and noise sensitivity
- Feelings of sluggishness
- Memory or concentration problems
We have gathered several resources below to assist cheerleaders, parents, coaches, administrators and athletic trainers properly manage a concussion sustained by a cheerleader.
- AACCA Cheerleading Concussion Recommendations – The American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators has convened a panel of experts to establish a recommended protocol for medical professionals as well as coaches of cheerleaders to manage a progressive return to cheerleading participation for a cheerleader who has been diagnosed with a concussion. Our goal is to minimize the occurrence of “Second Impact Syndrome” and allow the brain to heal to its fullest before returning to full activity.
- CDC – Concussion in Sports (with links to Heads Up) – To help ensure the health and safety of young athletes, CDC developed the Heads Up: Concussion in Youth Sports initiative to offer information about concussions to coaches, parents, and athletes involved in youth sports. The Heads Up initiative provides important information on preventing, recognizing, and responding to a concussion.
- Axon Sports – Concussion cognitive testing and management – Axon Sports cognitive training products are based on the latest neuroscience research of how athletes use their brain for playing sports.
- ImPACT Test – Concussion cognitive testing and management – ImPACT provides trained clinicians with neurocognitive assessment tools and services that have been medically accepted as state-of-the-art best practices — as part of determining safe return to play decisions.
- NFHS Concussion in Sports – What you need to know (free online course) – National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have teamed up to provide information and resources to help educate coaches, officials, parents and students on the importance of proper concussion recognition and management in high school sports.
- USA Cheer: Head Injuries and Policies – Recommended policy for all USA Cheer member organizations.