House bill #2038 also known as Natasha's law. Introduced in 2011. Took a huge step in the prevention and treatment of concussions in athletes attending public school here in Texas. In the bill, something called a return to play protocol was established. Basically saying if a student athlete is suspected of having a concussion, there's a series of steps they have to take to get back on the field. This includes getting a signed note from their family physician.
Before house bill #2038 was introduced, if an athlete had signs of a concussion, depending on the presumed severity at the time of the injury, that athlete might have been allowed to get back on the field, but thank's to this piece of legislation, according to Jeremy Woodword, head Athletic Trainer at United Regional "now all concussions are handled the same way. It doesn't matter if you got your bell rung and have a little headache. Or if you get completely knocked unconscious at the 50 yard line."
Now thanks to this legislation the first step is removing the player from competition, ultimately then requiring a physicians note to come back. The reason for all of this taking place, is that we now know the dangers of second impact syndrome. "second impact syndrome is when you have a concussion, and before that injury has healed up, you get another injury. So you have a concussion on top of a concussion."
This can result in an athlete having concussion like symptoms for the rest of their life. In addition to decreased brain activity, and becoming increasingly lethargic. And to minimize any chance of second impact syndrome. Along with doctors and trainers, legislators have come up with a return to play protocol. Usually set out in four phases...
Phase one is light aerobic activity...Or 10-to-15 minutes of light jogging...Phase two...Is slightly more strenuous aerobic activity...But still not back to full speed competition... Phase three...Involves being cleared to practice...But still with no contact...Such as hitting or tackling in football...And phase four...Is full contact practice, "once they've finished that phase they go back to their physician, with documentation that they've finished that phase progression, and have stayed symptom free. Then their doctor can sign of that's it's ok for them to return to play..."
This process of progressing an athlete throughout their return from a concussion continues to help keep high school Texas athletes safe, and continues to reduce the instances of second impact syndrome. Ensuring athletes will have a continued quality of life long after they hang up their pads.
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