Posted on November 22, 2013 at 10:04 AM
EDGEWOOD, Wash. -- Keely Connolly is just 16-years-old and a cheerleader at Puyallup High School
“We were stunting and I was the base, and my flyer came down, and elbowed me in the head, and I got a butt to the neck, and I was out," said Keely.
Keely’s mom, Julie, took her daughter to the emergency room but had no idea about the extent of Keely’s injury. So, two days later Keely was back on the sidelines.
Then it happened a second time.
Doctors at UW Medicine diagnosed Keely with a pair of concussions. For cheerleaders like Keely this has become an all too familiar injury.
In fact, The Journal of Pediatrics, in a recent study, said cheerleading is by far the most dangerous sport for female athletes.
“Cheerleading is really gymnastics and so you bet there is a risk of concussions in gymnastics," said Dr. Stanley Herring with UW Medicine.
Concussions from stunts, Like Keely's, are still likely under-reported.
For Keely, her concussions have been life altering.
"It was just a continued headache, the only time I didn't have a headache I was sleeping," said Keely. "Schoolwork became really tough."
Puyallup schools require student athletes in "high impact" sports like cheerleading to undergo a concussion screening before they can participate in sports. So for now, Keely is still out of her cheer squad and still visiting her doctors at UW Medicine at Harborview Medical Center. She still wants to return to the sidelines, but only if her health allows it.
"It's exciting to do stunts, but it's not worth it if you're gonna get hurt,” said Keely.