House Representative

Price, Four

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 05/05/2011

Texas House Resoundingly Passes Rep. Price's Bill On Student Athlete Concussions

~ Natasha's Law: Protects Student Athletes with Potential Concussion Injuries ~

Today, House Bill 2038, a pro-student athlete safety legislation authored by Representative Four Price and sponsored by Senator Bob Deuell, passed the Texas House of Representatives by a resounding vote of 129 to 5. The bill was named "Natasha's Law" for Natasha Helmick, a young Texas female star 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. Representative Four Price introduced this legislation in the Texas House to address the growing problem of traumatic brain injuries among student athletes. The bill has the support of many student athletes, parents, athletic trainers, coaches, administrators, physicians, healthcare professionals, and the National Football League.

"Concussions are serious brain injuries, which are hidden from the human eye. These potentially life altering injuries deserve heightened concern and immediate attention. No one can tell us how many concussions go undetected. When a student athlete breaks a limb, they receive proper and timely medical intervention. Why not the same for a suspected concussion? This is why Senator Deuell and I, along with many concerned individuals and groups, are working hard to get this vital public health bill passed. Our young student athletes deserve our fullest attention given that their brains are still developing," commented Price.

"Natasha's Law" will grant the authority to local school boards to designate a concussion oversight team comprised of licensed health care professionals to develop a return-to-play protocol for student's suspected of having sustained a concussion. It is important to note that this will not financially burden school districts as they are allowed to adopt well-established protocols that have been already developed by other school districts. "Mesquite ISD has already established itself as a leader in developing a return-to-play protocol which has been adopted by school districts nationwide, including a number of districts throughout Texas," said Price.

Price explained the legislation will accomplish three things: (1) an increased awareness of concussions, their symptoms, and prevention; (2) an immediate removal from play of any athlete suspected of having sustained a concussion; and (3) the establishment of a return-to-play protocol that ultimately allows a student athlete to return to practice or play once cleared by a physician of their choice.

"There are significant health care costs in failing to timely treat a concussion and allowing the student athlete to sustain repeated concussions. More importantly, failing to timely intervene when a concussion is suspected severely jeopardizes the athlete's health, which is priceless." said Price. "Physicians tell us that removing children immediately from play or practice and allowing them to recover completely is the best way to keep concussions from having long-term effects. An athlete who has sustained a concussion can be re-injured very easily. A neurosurgeon testified that re-injuries can severely worsen or prolong symptoms, and can even put the student athlete at risk for rapid brain swelling and sudden death. The safety of student athletes is more important than the outcome of any final score. Therefore, if a concussion is suspected, the athlete must be removed from practice or competition and be seen by the treating physician of their choice. Ultimately, a treating physician must provide written authorization before an athlete can resume practice or play," said Price.

"I want to thank everyone that supported this vital legislation passing the House, the 129 House members who supported passing the bill, including the 23 joint/coauthors, and the following organizations: Texas State Athletic Trainers Association, Texas Medical Association, Texas Pediatric Society, Brain Injury Association of TX, Brain Injury Alliance of Texas, The Methodist Hospital System, National Football League, Dallas Cowboys Football Team, Houston Texans Football Team, and William Benson of Young People of Texas. I especially want to thank Natasha Helmick for having the courage to advocate on this health issue and reminding all of us, "when in doubt, sit them out." I look forward to working with Senator Deuell in seeing this bill passed in the Senate.