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Texas students have another layer of protection against concussions in school sports

Houston, TX - 8/4/2011

A Methodist Hospital neuropsychologist who provided testimony to state lawmakers in support of the recently passed "Natasha's Law" says the new rules will protect Texas children from needless sports injuries.

Under the new law, a student would be removed from practice or from a game immediately if a coach, physician, health care professional, or a parent or guardian believed the student might have sustained a concussion while participating in a sport.

"Student athletes should be confident that their safety is most important while participating in sports," said Dr. Summer Ott, a neuropsychologist and co-director of the Methodist Concussion Center in Houston. She also serves as team concussion expert for the Houston Aeros, Houston Dynamo and Houston Texans, as well as for many universities and high schools throughout Texas. "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."

The law, which goes into effect this school year, prohibits a student from participating in an interscholastic athletic activity until the student and a parent or guardian sign an acknowledgement form stating that written information about concussions and relevant safety policies was received and read. Natasha's Law was named for a young Texas female soccer player who suffered repeated concussions on the field and ultimately gave up the game and her dream of playing on the USA Olympic Team due to her injuries.

Approximately 140,000 high school students suffer concussions each year, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations. This law applies to any interscholastic athletic activity, including practice and competition, overseen by a school district; a public school, including a charter school; or the University Interscholastic League. Local school boards would designate a concussion oversight team comprised of licensed health care professionals to develop a return-to-play protocol for students suspected of having a concussion. The oversight team would have to include at least one physician and at least one of the following: athletic trainer, advanced practice nurse, neuropsychologist or a physician assistant.

"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," said Dr. Howard Derman, neurologist and co-director of the Methodist Concussion Center. Derman is also team neurologist for the Houston Texans.

For more on the Methodist Concussion Center, visit the website or call 713-796-0622.

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