House aims to cut back on athlete injuries

POSTED: Thursday, May 5, 2011 - 4:44pm
UPDATED: Friday, April 13, 2012 - 9:54am

WACO -- Despite school budget concerns, the house has passed a bill to strengthen protocol for dealing with student athletes who have concussions. While most local schools have trainers in place to oversee the injuries, experts say more research must be done to protect our children.

Hailey Cowan is a cheerleader who knows what it's like to be sent back on to the floor even after a concussion.

"Like sitting out is frustrating, it's frustrating having to go back because you're like there's something wrong with me and they are like oh your fine don't worry about it," says Cowan.

Athletic trainers like Baylor's Michael Martin, say putting an athlete on the field with a concussion is a big mistake.

"You're putting them in a situation for other problems like second impact syndrome, when an athlete goes back on the field and they still have symptoms from their concussion. It can be life threatening," says Martin.

Now, legislators are working to keep that from happening.

A new law would require schools to have a team of medical professionals and an athletic trainer to evaluate injured athletes.

"If there are situations, you know, coaches, schools, that aren't taking these steps, then they need to be, and we need to push them that way just to cut down on the injuries," says Martin.

He says with new technology, we're learning more and more about the injury.

Trainers can even use computer programs that test your memory and reaction times to help diagnose the concussion. This helps them get an understand how it impacts the brain.

However, after four concussions, Cowan can describe it first-hand.

"I had post concussion syndrome for four months so I was in and out of school, but I was throwing up every day. I couldn't read. I could read but like all the words would come into the middle of the page," says Cowan.

Legislators hope the new bill will raise awareness to cases like Cowan's, making sports safer for young athletes.

Waco ISD and Midway ISD already have athletic trainers to supervise their athletes, but if this bill passes the Senate, stricter rules will start next year.

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