DENVER - For many of the Broncos Cheerleaders, this season has been especially hard. As a whole, the squad has had more injuries than any other season and many of those injuries have been serious.
Toni Gabrielli, who has been on the squad for two seasons, had one of the most painful.
"We were doing our touchdown dance and everyone was so excited. Someone came in from the side and knocked me down. That knocked my knee out of place. My patella actually went out. I was laying on the field and everyone was celebrating, so I pushed it back in and they carted me off," said Gabrielli.
An x-ray revealed no further damage. The 26-year-old just missed a couple of practices as she healed.
Still, this season hasn't been easy. Toni, along with several other squad members, suffers from what's called "over-use injuries." Basically, more than 20 years of dancing has really taken its toll on her body.
Dr. Jonathan Bravman, a sports medicine doctor with University of Colorado Hospital, says "over-use injuries" are very common in cheerleading. They include your basic sprains and strains and even more severe injuries, like stress fractures.
Dr. Bravman says athletes of all ages can suffer from "over-use injuries."
"Younger athletes, especially those who specialize in a certain sport, are really upping the amount of time and exposure they are playing, both in practice and in competition," he said.
Making matters worse, Dr. Bravman says is the fact that these athletes continue to practice and compete. He tells 9News that doesn't allow their bodies to heal and oftentimes, makes the initial injury even worse.
Dr. Bravman says another common injury among cheerleaders is concussions. He says they can be just as severe as what a player on the field might experience.
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