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New guidelines to protect cheerleaders - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

New guidelines to protect cheerleaders

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The varsity cheerleading squad is practicing before the big game at Clarkstown High School North. It can be fun, but it can also be dangerous.

"I just got my second concussion. I've sprained a lot of things, and a lot of black eyes," said Michelle Macalena, a member of the squad.

Cheerleading injuries have been on the rise for years. Now the American Academy of Pediatrics is putting out new guidelines that say cheerleading should be designated as a sport in all states -- a designation that would ensure cheerleaders certain safety measures.

"Things like mandatory pre-sport physicals, access to appropriately certified coaches, access to training programs," said Dr. Emily Dodwell, a Pediatrician with the Hospital for Special Surgery.

Cheerleading has become more competitive in recent years and routines involve more complex and difficult moves. Each year, there are about 26-thousand injuries in the U.S.

Other recommendations include no stunts on hard or wet surfaces and no pyramids more than two people high. At Clarkstown North, the team does everything it can to prevent injuries. "If we're learning a new stunt we do require that they have spotters in the back until they can execute the stunt very firmly," said the team's coach, AnnMarie Dilonardo.

Fifteen year-old Shannon O'Connor broke her nose during a stunt, but it didn't dampen her enthusiasm for cheering. "Cheerleading is my life. I never want to stop." she said.

And since safety comes first, there were no stunts during the big game, because it was raining.

Ines Ferre - CBS News

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