— -- New research from a state-wide survey in Arizona may hold true for the rest of the country. Parents seem to understand that football can cause serious concussions, which in turn could cause serious long term neurological damage. But they are missing the memo when it comes to the risks associated with other contact sports.
In a new survey conducted by the group in Arizona, 85 percent of parents said they would permit their children to participate in "any contact sport." That number is up from 69 percent of parents in a similar survey from 2014.
The survey reports that while only two-thirds of parents said they would allow their child to play football, nine of 10 parents were fine with letting their kids take part in soccer, even though girls’ soccer has the highest rates of concussion of any teen sport.
“The greatest rise of that participation is actually in girls’ sports,” Dr. Javier Cardenas, director of the Barrow Concussion and Brain Injury Center, said in a press conference Thursday. “The number one increase is actually in cheer."
Cardenas added that because there are fewer girls involved in high-level cheerleading, the absolute number of cheerleading concussions is low.
Alexa Caiazzo of Gilbert, Arizona, was a cheerleader who said she had experienced a concussion.
“I couldn’t read, I couldn’t write, I couldn’t even have a light on in the house,” Alexa Caiazzo, 16, told ABC News.
Alexa Caiazzo said she was treated at the Barrow Institute after suffering three concussions, which ended her seven years as a cheerleader.
“I had extremely bad pain in my legs,” she said. “My headaches got progressively worse and I slept 15 to 20 hours a day.”
Alexa Caiazzo’s mom, Lisa Caiazzo, said that after Alexa's third concussion, she decided it was time to pull both of her daughters out of the sport.
"It was really hard,” Lisa Caiazzo said while fighting back tears. “To tell her that you are done was the worst thing I think I ever had to say to my kids. I knew it took a while for football to get those helmet laws into place and now I think it’s time for cheer.”
At first, Alexa Caiazzo said she didn’t realize she was experiencing concussion symptoms, but she now hopes kids will become more aware of what to look for to determine if they have a concussion.