Cheerleaders with Concussions

Guidelines for Return-to-play

Cheerleading 2Stunting and tumbling put cheerleaders at risk for traumatic brain injuries. In fact, a recent report found that cheerleading is second in concussions behind football. To help coaches and parents determine when a cheerleader can return to cheerleading, the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators recently published the first guidelines:

  • Stage 1 – No cheerleading/dance/gymnastics activity without physician’s approval.
  • Stage 2 – Continue basic exercise allowing a slightly elevated heart rate such as fast walking, stationary bike or slow elliptical.
  • Stage 3 – Begin moderate exercise, but cheerleading remains limited to cheers and chants. You may now introduce quick movements of the head and mild/moderate dances.
  • Stage 4 – Begin low-level cheerleading activities such as basic gymnastics and basic stunting. Limit gymnastics to single-rotation in hand-supported position like cartwheels and roundoffs. Sidelined cheers are permitted but no live activity or practicing of competition routines.
  • Stage 5 – Begin moderate-level cheerleading activities. Limit stunting to double legged, extension level activities with simple dismounts and added spotter. Limit gymnastics to basic and moderate tumbling passes with a maximum of two rotations and no twisting per any single pass.
  • Return to full participation – Pending physician approval cheerleader may begin full participation including advanced stunts, advanced gymnastics and advanced dances. May practice, compete and participate in sideline activities.


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