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Suggestions/Prevention Strategies

As previously discussed, there is a definite need for more accurate and complete data collection and analysis, as well as further research. Data collection in this field is severely lacking. The scope of this issue could be much worse than the current data shows. A central agency for safety regulation of the cheerleading “industry” would be the most effective tool for preventing injuries. It is likely beneficial for two branches of one central agency to be formed, one to govern high school cheerleading, and one to govern collegiate cheerleading. Such an agency would also help to streamline data collection. More research is needed to determine the most significant risk factors for injury so they can become prevention priorities. Specific prevention strategies should be investigated to determine their efficacy.

William Haddon, Jr. also developed ten strategies for injury prevention which are widely applicable just as the matrix is. The strategies are outlined below as well as their practicality when applied to high school and college cheerleading.

1. Prevent the creation of the hazard in the first place.
With the growing popularity of cheerleading, is it not practical to discontinue its existence.

2. Reduce the amount of the hazard created
The application of this strategy would be to reduce the occurrence of dangerous stunts. Unfortunately, I do not think this is possible, as the competitive cheerleading teams are actually increasing their use of these stunts.

3. Prevent the release of a hazard that already exists.
This strategy would be best addressed by reducing or eliminating the host site for dangerous activity: competitions. This too is unpractical, as they are a major source of income for the for-profit cheerleading organizations and a big attraction for cheerleading teams.

4. Modify the rate of spatial distribution of the hazard from its source
This is one of the practical applications. The easiest way to apply this strategy is to enforce adequate safety regulations, especially for facilities. This is a must for injury prevention in this area.

5. Separate in time or space the hazard from that which is to be protected
The same applications as used in the 4th strategy apply here: enforce facility and equipment safety standards.

6. Separate the hazard and what is to be protected by a material barrier
Use of proper mats/padding on which routines are practiced and performed is the best way to implement this very practical strategy.

7. Modify relevant basic qualities of the hazard
This is a practical strategy as well. Many times during competitions, improper and completely unregulated activities (such as “stunt-fest” where stunting occurs without proper spotters or equipment) are either allowed or encouraged. These activities should be banned immediately.

8. Make what is to be protected more resistant to damage from the hazard
Participating athletes should be in the best physical condition possible for performing their complex routines and wear protective gear where applicable. This too can be easily accomplished.

9. Move rapidly to detect and evaluate damage that has occurred and counter its continuation and extension
This can be accomplished by improving data collection methods and enforcing the use of properly trained coaching/safety staff.

10. Stabilize, repair, and rehabilitate the damaged object
Practical application of this strategy would be to ensure quick and adequate medical care for injuries that do occur.