Concussions can be the result of a big hit or an accumulation of multiple small strikes, and are an unfortunate part of high school athletics.
Vermont legislators want to make sure one injury doesn't result in a lifetime of damage. They fear some students start playing again too early, risking a repeat and more severe injury.
Sen. Dick Sears volunteered as a JV football coach last season and says legislation passed in the previous session doesn't go far enough.
"What I found was a lot of the kids, because it's a short season, were not telling us that they had suffered a concussion," said Sears, D-Bennington County.
His proposal, Senate Bill 4, would require:
Schools to create a plan for handling concussions in general and individual cases
Coaches and officials to receive concussion training
And would add lacrosse and wrestling to the list of sports requiring a medical professional or athletic trainer on the sidelines.
"You have to let us know. And that's one of the first things we tell our students, tell our coaches, and anybody involved is that you have to let us know," said Matt Link, the athletic director at Montpelier Union High School.
Link says students must be symptom-free for seven days before they can return to play. He says students don't always know when they have a concussion, so it helps to have a trainer on the sidelines for all sports.
"A lot of the items in the bill we're not opposed to, but overall there are some logistical issues," said Bob Johnson of the Vermont Principals Association.
Johnson oversees high school athletics for the Principals Association. He says smaller schools could struggle with the availability and cost of hiring part-time trainers for home games and worries about legislating medical practices. But, he says continued attention and examination surrounding head injuries will put Vermont ahead of the game.
Sen. Sears' bill passed the Senate earlier this year and is currently under consideration in the House.
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