Texas doctors and legislators believe the health of student athletes will be better protected with the recent enactment of Natasha’s Law. The new state law requires specific responses when student athletes get concussions on the field. Previously, a coach was able to send a student back into a game or practice if they were free of symptoms for 15 minutes. Concussion symptoms include blurred vision, headaches and dizziness. The new law requires a physician to give the okay before an athlete in any sport can return to play. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that nearly 3.8 million sports-related concussions happen every year in the U.S.  Adolescents between the ages of 15 to 19 get more concussions than in most other age groups, and they can be more damaging to adolescent brains than to adult brains.

Dr. Jim Sterling, a sports medicine and concussion specialist who assisted in drafting the initial bill is pleased with the new law. “We’ve hurt a kid’s brain and put him back in the game the same day, but when they have a knee injury they’re out for three weeks.  We’ve been doing it a certain way for 30 years, but that doesn’t mean that’s the right way,” said Sterling.  Coaches and trainers acknowledge the new rules may keep a star athlete out of a game at times.  “The more cautious the better.”  said Matt Gross, an athletic trainer at Pace High School in Brownsville.  “Studies showing long-term issues are alarming.  It’s for the health of the kids.”

Another part of the new Texas law requires coaches and athletic trainers to complete two hours of training on how to identify the symptoms of concussion, as well as establishing when an athlete can return to play.  State Senator Bob Deuell, who is also a physician said, “we wanted to create guidelines for the people responsible for protecting children – parents, coaches, trainers.  A lot of them have questions.”   ……  NYTimes.com  10/9/12

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