Warning issued for cheerleaders about concussion danger

Friday, October 7, 2016
Warning issued for cheerleaders about concussion danger
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There are more alerts about concussions from a recent study on their potential long term harm.

NEW YORK (KGO) -- Parents, listen up if you have a child athlete. There are more alerts about concussions from a recent study on their potential long term harm.

When you hear sport and concussion you think of football, soccer, maybe even baseball, but not usually cheerleading. But one student athlete is speaking out about the dangers.

Cheerleading isn't often associated with getting a concussion, but all the tumbling could lead to actual tumbles. It happens more often than you think and can have catastrophic consequences.

"It's been over a year and I still have headaches," said former cheerleader Kaitlyn Behnke. You know 60-70 percent of the day."

Benhke has had five concussions over 15 years, all from cheering. Her first concussion was when she was 13 years old. And it wasn't from flying and falling, but from being the base catcher. She was on the squad at the University of Texas and after the fourth concussion she saw long-term effects.

RELATED: Concussions in children may be vastly underreported study finds

"Short-term memory issues, you know, not being able to remember where I parked my car," she said. "Not being able to remember or find words when I was talking."

ABC News' Senior Medical Contributor Dr. Jennifer Ashton spoke on "Good Morning America" about why recovery is so important.

"There's one study, George, that showed that amongst high school athletes at two weeks only 40 percent are recovered. At a month, only 90 percent are recovered," she said.

Ashton referenced two steaks that look like they've been cooked through on the outside and went onto say, "It's like looking at these steaks, on the outside they look like they're cooked the same. This one not fully cooked, this one better cooked. You can't tell by looking at an athlete on the outside."

RELATED:Multiple concussions of student athletes in spotlight after high profile cases

Kind of a strange analogy but Ashton says rates of concussions among girls and women have recently gone up 100 percent, but the reason Behnke is speaking out is also about awareness.

Just one injury can have lasting physical and psychological affects down the road, but the good news is most people don't see that. '

If your kid does have a concussion The best advice for parents is to encourage their kids to sit out and to remind kids it's okay to miss one or two games. Behnke said if she had done so, she wouldn't have had to quit cheerleading altogether.