Football Season Kicks Off With New Concussion Guidelines

By Geena Martinez
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND/ODESSA - It's that time again. Friday night football officially kicks off across West Texas but this year the rules are a little different. That's after players got the attention of legislators in Austin.

With any sport, injuries are going to happen, but this year, lawmakers were especially concerned with concussions.

Now with legislation called Natasha's Law, if a player gets hurt, they'll have to meet certain guidelines before they can step on the field again.

It's been a West Texas tradition for years.

High schools duking it out on the football field and the crowd can't get enough.

But one thing no one likes to see are players sidelined for concussions.

"Headache, blurred vision, dizziness confusion, athletes stating that they feel in fog," Jim Carlson, athletic trainer at PhyTex Sports Rehab and Medicine, said.

"It's something we do deal with and it's more regular than we'd like it to be," Dorsey Legendre, trainer at Odessa High School, said.

Named after a soccer player who suffered multiple concussions, under Natasha's law, coaches and trainers must follow strict guidelines if they suspect a concussion.

"The person must be removed from play," Carlson said. "They would be given a sheet of instructions to take home to and the parents contacted on what to look for."

Players must then contact their doctor and cannot return until they're cleared.

But schools are responsible too. They're required to follow a return-to-play protocol before a player can step foot on the field again.

"Light aerobic activity the first day, then maybe some weight lifting activity the second day and so on and so forth," Carlson said.

But not everyone, especially the athletes, like the new law.

"Their time out, we're averaging about 10 days," Legendre said.

For others, these new concussion guidelines really aren't new at all.

"We've been doing almost everything that the new law says since last spring," Hondo Schneider, trainer at Midland High School, and also a member of the UIL Medical Advisory Committee, said. "We were proactive from the start and now we just have to follow the letter of the law."

But whether there's a law or not, everyone agrees it's better to be safe than sorry.

"We certainly don't want reoccurrences of things like that," Carlson said.

"We're dealing with someone's child when they're hurt and that is a big deal," Schneider said.