Late last week, the Texas House voted 94 to 42 in favor of "Natasha's Law," a measure that would disallow a concussed student-athlete from competing in his or her sport until cleared by a physician.
Additionally, HB 2038, which now awaits a vote in the Texas Senate, would require preseason neurocognitive evaluation for college-level interscholastic participants.
Several other states -- such as North Carolina and Minnesota -- are voting on similar legislation during a time when awareness and detection are at all-time highs. Natasha Helmick, a former Texas State University soccer player who suffered from five concussions in four years, helped spearhead Texas's version.
According to Dr. William M. Jones of Memorial Hermann Sports Medicine Institute, repeated blows to the head have been linked to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), which has been shown to cause dementia, depression and suicide. Former Chicago Bear Dave Duerson, who took his own life on February 17, was shown, following post-death pathology, to have suffered from the degenerative neurological disease.
"What we're finding out is that CTE almost has symptoms similar to Alzheimer's disease. [CTE] affects memory, judgment, impulse control, mood, depression and cognition," says Jones. "That's why you'll see some athletes undergo these radical personality changes. All of sudden they're aggressive and get really impulsive.
"In the case of Duerson, he was a really good businessman for the longest period of time and then suddenly started making these horribly bad business moves within a really short period of time. Around that same time they noticed that he was becoming more aggressive and impulsive."
"Natasha's Law" is scheduled for public hearing in the Texas Senate on May 17.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.