Vermont Governor Signs Bill Addressing Concussions in School Sports
On June 4, 2013, Vermont’s Governor Peter Shumlin signed a bill that imposes greater requirements on schools to protect student athletes from the potentially serious consequences of concussions in sports, especially from multiple concussions.
Under prior law, coaches were required to keep athletes who they had “reason to believe” had sustained a concussion out of play until cleared to return by a qualified health professional. The new law imposes a similar requirement on a coach or health care provider who “knows or should know” that the athlete has sustained a concussion.
But the new law goes further
The new law requires training for coaches on how to reduce the risk of concussion in sports as well as on how to recognize a concussion, and training for referees in collision sports on recognizing concussions. It also requires every public and approved independent school in the state to have a concussion management action plan, with policies that cover not only the removal and return of athletes to play, but also the return of athletes with concussions to learning activities. A Concussion Task Force is created to make recommendations to schools as well as to recommend any further policy action needed.
Beginning July 1, 2015, home teams are required to have a health care provider present at any athletic event involving a collision sport (football, hockey, lacrosse or wrestling.)
Guidelines for Return to Learn as Well As Return to Play
The Brain Injury Association of Vermont, in alliance with the Concussion Task Force, has developed guidelines for students who have suffered concussions as well as their parents, addressing the symptoms of concussion, what to do while recovering from a concussion and how to manage not only returning to athletics but also returning to the learning environment.
Concussions in sports often impact a student’s ability to manage the learning environment, requiring accommodations. These needs can be either short term or long term. Best practice recommendations for school professionals helping students return to learn after a concussion can be found on the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website.