High School Concussions and Retirement: When to Call It Quits?

Caesarea

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Jul 25, 2022
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My cousin (15F) is a high school cheerleader who suffered a concussion at practice from an accident in a relatively simple stunt/pyramid (she is a top person/flyer). Her mom (my aunt) has asked me, because I am a cheerleading coach and she thinks I would have answers. I have only been coaching for a couple of years, however, and I have no medical training at all.

Basically, I was asked whether the cheerleader in question should continue to cheer the rest of the season, and perhaps in future years as well. They have been worried about the risk of repeat concussions and worse outcomes. (This is her first concussion; no loss of consciousness or memory loss was involved.) I am of the opinion that after completing Return to Play and being asymptomatic, she can continue cheering.

However, this brings up a good question: when IS it time to call it quits? How many concussions is too many? What if this was her second? Third? When would you be wary of continued cheerleading?
 

NJ Coach

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I always have had 2 rules. When the Dr clears you to return, you may return. When the Dr tells you to quit, you're done.

If it was a minor concussion and she's currently asymptomatic and has clearance from a Dr, she's good to return.

As far as how many concussions are too many, that's an individual thing. It would depend on severity of concussions, symptoms continuing, Dr's clearance, and their own feelings on the matter. There's not an answer that will work for everyone.
 

Keep_Believing

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I always have had 2 rules. When the Dr clears you to return, you may return. When the Dr tells you to quit, you're done.

If it was a minor concussion and she's currently asymptomatic and has clearance from a Dr, she's good to return.

As far as how many concussions are too many, that's an individual thing. It would depend on severity of concussions, symptoms continuing, Dr's clearance, and their own feelings on the matter. There's not an answer that will work for everyone.
Great advice
 

ct_dad

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Dec 31, 2014
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When I was coaching our rule, without exception, was if a coach thinks a cheerleader exhibiting concussion-like symptoms the cheerleader will first see the athletic trainer for eval. If the trainer agrees, then they are not permitted to return until cleared by both their personal physician AND the trainer. This timeline has been as short as a couple weeks and as long as a year. Every school/team should have a plan in place for how to manage concussion injuries and at a minimum that should be the guideline. I do also recommend, if you haven't already to hit up one of the concussion trainings listed on the USA Cheer training page: https://www.usacheer.org/safety/training-courses

Beyond that, how many concussions are too many and when to call it quits, unless the school/district/league/etc have a written rule, depends on the athletes doctor and parents. My daughter has had 4 (I think) that I know of. And probably more than that that she managed to mask. Daughter knew though, that if her doctor said she was done, then she was done and we weren't inclined to argue it. I'll also point out, only 1 of those concussions came when she was flying. Two were from basing and one from tumbling.
 
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