Former cheerleader advocates for stricter guidelines to prevent - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

Former cheerleader advocates for stricter guidelines to prevent injuries

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Former University of Memphis cheerleader Krista Robinson survived a devastating cheerleading injury in 2003.

She fell head first from a 15-foot pyramid during practice. "And I remember I hit like you would dive into a swimming pool with no water," she said. "And I just remember my whole body being tingly and going numb."

Cheerleading isn't all just short skirts and big smiles. Some of their routines are downright dangerous. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, cheerleaders account for two-thirds of catastrophic injuries among high school girl athletes. "The days of trial and error for throwing kids around needs to be done," she said."  

Three crushed vertebrae temporarily paralyzed her. Swelling in her brain required life-threatening surgery. "They gave a 50-50 chance of working and surviving," she said. Robinson fought like an Olympian to get her strength, her speech and her life back. "The one thing that I never lost was the motivation to do it," she said.

 Today, she works with the National Cheer Safety Foundation, fighting to make cheerleading an official sport that would require strict safety guidelines.

Despite her catastrophic injury, she never gave up. Her job now is to nurse injured patients back to health through physical therapy. "It's that much more fulfilling to do what we're doing because of what I've gone through," she said.

Her husband Josh is her biggest cheerleader. "She's tough. She's my hero," he said. "She could have been handicapped, she could have been depressed in her life.  What did she do?  She opened up something to help people that went through the same thing she went through."

They hope parents will demand safety for their children so they, too, can go on to become champions. "Who knows where they could get to? Pro level, Olympic level. The sky's the limit," Krista said.

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