Bill To Protect Cheerleaders From Head Injuries Advances

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Assembly members Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr., Mila M. Jasey and Craig J. Coughlin requiring the state Department of Education to include cheerleading in the student-athlete head injury safety training program was advanced Thursday by a Senate committee.

The bill (A-4008) would extend the safety training requirement to cheerleading coaches in public school and nonpublic school interscholastic sports programs, and amend the current law which requires the training solely for school physicians, sports coaches and athletic trainers in public school and nonpublic school interscholastic sports programs.

“This bill would ensure the safety of students involved in cheerleading, which has become more competitive and pushes the limits of gymnastics and dance,” said Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “These students run the risk of serious injury when they perform, and deserve the same level of protection given to other students involved in school athletics.”

“The cheerleaders of today do more than wave pompons; they are performing athletically difficult routines including high pyramids, leaps and tosses,” said Jasey (D-Essex). “This offers them the same level of protection as other student athletes, and ensures their coaches will have the training to properly recognize and deal with head injuries.”

“Cheerleading is competitive and can be as dangerous for students as high-contact sports like football,” said Coughlin (D-Middlesex). “Making sure trainers and coaches have the knowledge to recognize symptoms, and when it’s safe for a student to return to the sport will help keep student athletes safe from further injury or even worse.”

The bill was approved 78-0 by the Assembly in June and released today by the Senate Education Committee.

The training covers how to recognize symptoms of head and neck injuries, concussions, and injuries related to second-impact syndrome; and the appropriate amount of time to delay the return to competition of a student who suffers a head injury.

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