In accordance with a new bill signed into law earlier this year, Texas students who suffer concussions while participating in athletic events must now have physician clearance before returning to play.
The measure was universally applauded by school officials, parents and The Methodist Hospital in Houston’s Concussion Center.
“Natasha’s Law,” the new legislation, is named after a young Texas soccer player. After suffering repeated concussions on the field, Natasha had to give up the sport along with her dream of playing on the USA Olympic Team.
Experts in the treatment of concussions, Dr. Howard Derman, neurologist, and Dr. Summer Ott, neuropsychologist, serve as the co-directors of the Methodist Concussion Center in Houston and are both team neurologists for the Houston Texans.
Both men supported “Natasha’s Law”. Dr. Ott testified before state lawmakers saying, “Student athletes should be confident that their safety is important while participating in sports. This law is an effective way to make sure schools take the proper steps to address head injuries so our kids can continue to enjoy sports.” “All of us should be focused on preventing long-term and/or life-altering injuries, so a consistent return-to-play protocol is a must,” Dr. Derman added.
In order to develop return-to-play protocol for students showing signs of a concussion, local school boards are required to delegate licensed health care professionals to serve on oversight teams. Each team must include at least one physician and at least one athletic trainer, advanced practice nurse, neuropsychologist or a physician assistant.
The law requires that an athlete’s parent or guardian sign an acknowledgement form stating that written information about concussions and relevant safety policies was received and read. Also, if a coach, physician, health care professional, or a parent or guardian believes that a student might have suffered a concussion while participating in a sport, then that student will be removed from practice or from a game immediately.