Authors: Luis Gude, MD, Gillian Hotz, PHD
Gillian Hotz Ph.D
Lois Pope LIFE Center – 1-40, (R-48)
1095 NW 14th Terrace, Miami, Florida 33136
Gillian A. Hotz, PhD is a research professor at the University of Miami, Miller School of
Medicine and a nationally recognized behavioral neuroscientist and expert in pediatric and adult neurotrauma, concussion management, and neurorehabilitation. Dr. Hotz is the director of the KiDZ Neuroscience Center, WalkSafe, BikeSafe, and SkateSafe programs, and has been co-director of the Miller School of Medicine’s Concussion Program since 1995. She continues to assess and treat many athletes from Miami-Dade County public and private high schools, the University of Miami, and from other colleges and the community.
Concussions in Cheerleaders Reported from a Countywide Concussion Injury Surveillance System
The purpose of this study was to advocate for the acceptance of cheerleading as a sport so that its athletes are eligible for the same resources available to other sports, such as concussion education programs and injury surveillance systems. The subjects of this study were cheerleaders from Miami Dade County public high schools who sustained a sports related concussion (SRC) from August 2015 to June 2019, identified from the Miami Concussion Model Concussion Injury Surveillance System. The database is compiled from reports submitted by certified athletic trainers after a suspected concussion, from post-injury ImPACT tests, and from patients who present to the University of Miami Sports Concussion Clinic for evaluation. A total of 29 cheerleaders were identified. The 2018-19 academic year accounted for 45% of reported concussions, representing a large increase in number compared to previous years. This was observed after increased emphasis was placed on certified athletic trainers to report SRC in cheerleaders. On average cheerleaders with SRC were withheld from sport for 26.2 days, and 38% had prolonged recovery of >28 days. Cheerleaders perform complex athletic maneuvers that put them at risk of injury, particularly SRC. If considered a sport, cheerleading would be afforded the same benefits as other sports, including resources for better facilities, mandatory concussion education, ATC availability, baseline neurocognitive testing, and inclusion in injury surveillance systems. Increased knowledge of the long-term sequelae of concussions and repetitive head injuries has led to the development of concussion education programs and injury surveillance systems to protect athletes from these types of injuries. Although competitive cheerleading has been recognized as a sport, cheerleading as a whole has not, putting its athletes at risk as its participants are not included in these safety programs.(more…)