Shumlin to sign law on concussions in school sports
By Anna Grearson
Staff Writer | June 04,2013
The latest legislation surrounding the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of concussions among high school athletes is to be signed into law today by Gov. Peter Shumlin in a ceremony at Montpelier High School at 3:15 p.m.
“I’m very happy with the outcome,” said Montpelier football coach John Murphy. He testified along with Solons football players and athletic trainers and brain injury experts from around the state over the past five months. “It did get scary there for a minute when we thought the House was going to table it for the next session.”
The House and Senate committees were able to come to an agreement before the end of the legislative session in mid-May, thanks in large part to a compromise that created the Concussion Task Force “to study concussions resulting from school activities and to provide recommendations for further action.” The task force will focus on perhaps the most controversial part of the bill, which requires a certified athletic trainer or other health care provider who has been certified within the past five years in the evaluation and management of concussions and other head injuries to be present at all home collision sport games.
The task force is composed of the secretary of education or a designee; the commissioner of health or a designee; one representative each from the Vermont Principals Association, the Vermont Athletic Trainers Association, the Vermont Traumatic Brain Injury Advisory Board, the School Nurses Division of the Department of Health and the Vermont School Boards Insurance Trust; a student athlete appointed by the Vermont Athletic Trainers Association; and a coach of a high school athletic team appointed by the VPA. It must convene by July 15.
“We’ve had a lot of work this year, lot of testimony, but I’m definitely looking forward to two years from now when they have their meetings and come up with an action plan for kids to return to play,” Murphy said.
The requirement for certified personnel to be at all home games of collision sports takes effect July 1, 2015, pending the findings of the Concussion Task Force.
“The bill is what the bill is, and we will enforce the bill once it’s signed,” said Bob Johnson, the associate executive director of the VPA, who is also in charge of all student sports and activities. “We’re looking forward to the study from the task force and seeing what information we can determine.”
According to Johnson, the task force was implemented to give schools time to prepare for the financial impact inherent with the passing of the legislation, S.4.
“It has the potential for a big impact,” he said. “I think we’re going to see some interesting results out of that study group.”
The bill adds to existing law by including the new definition of collision versus contact sports, declaring that sports like football, lacrosse, hockey and wrestling present a higher risk of concussive injuries to student athletes.
It also requires officials of collision sport contests to receive training not less than every two years on how to recognize concussions.
Officials for upcoming fall sports will have to complete training before the start of the season.
The bill also includes sections on the administration and availability of epinephrine auto-injectors and school-based mental health and substance abuse services.
The bill takes effect July 1, with the exception of the requirement for a health care provider at school sports activities.
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