IRVING (CBSDFW.COM) – With football practice gearing up to kick off across North Texas, there are already big changes in place to protect athletes from serious injury.

A number of districts across North Texas have told coaches there will be no more ‘toughing it out’ for athletes who appear to be suffering the impact of a concussion.

Man coaches, along with their athletic trainers will be required to know how to care for players who may have a concussion.

“The old term ‘I got my bell rung,’ we try to never use that. ‘I got dinged,’ we never want to hear that. It’s a concussion, we treat it seriously,” said Dr. Stephen Bunt, the athletic trainer for Irving High School.

‘Treating it seriously’ is the key to a new state law passed in 2011 mandating concussion oversight teams for each school. The teams include trainers, nurses and doctors.

By September, all coaches must also undergo concussion training.

Dr. Bunt says part of diagnosing any injury to the brain is checking the athlete’s brain function, so his team has spent the summer working with each Irving High School athlete. “It’s our goal to have every athlete in the school -about 700 athletes – so we try to have a baseline on every athlete.”

dscn3046 Coaches, Trainers Implementing New State Concussion Rules

High School athlete Austin Morris, who suffered a concussion last year while playing for the Irving High School Tigers. (Courtesy Austin Morris)

Athletes like Defensive End Austin Morris. Last season he was knocked out while trying to make a tackle. “I put my head down to make a tackle and he ran right into me I fell backwards and I was out for about 30 seconds.”

Morris had a concussion. “The first two days I had a bad headache… I was slurring my words and didn’t look normal.”

He sat out for a week and a half instead of getting right back in to the game.

The new law says students have to wait until they’re fully recovered.

Bucky Taylor with Mesquite ISD was behind the concussion legislation. “The bottom line we are trying to protect young people from going to play too soon.”

Taylor hopes the new push will help every district identify early signs and symptoms of concussions and in the long run, minimize the lingering effects.

“We are seeing more and more evidence of people having severe depression and severe dementia all these other problems from brain trauma and brain trauma that may have initially started when they were in middle school or high school.”

Athletes who suffer head injuries will be required to have a release from a doctor before going back to the field.

Parents are expected to be given information before the season kicks off so they too know what to look for in their children who may have suffered from a concussion.

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