Vermont Looks To Improve Implementation Of School Concussion Law

May 25, 2017

Vermont has one of the toughest school concussion laws in the country, and now officials want to know how the law is being implemented.

The 2013 law requires athletic staff to be trained in recognizing concussions, and says schools must have a plan for allowing student athletes back on to the field.

But Vermont Department of Health Injury Prevention Chief Tanya Wells says the state hasn't followed up to see how the law is playing out.

Wells says the health department is working with the Agency of Education, and the nonprofit group Brain Injury Association of Vermont, to survey schools on the new concussion protocol.

"We actually got feedback from a couple of schools that said, 'We've been collecting data but we don't really know what to do with it,'" Wells said. "In the law it's not stipulated who was in charge of reporting the data, so we thought it would be a good idea to do an initial survey to see if people are doing it and what kind of information they're getting. The next step would be seeing if we could set up a system to share the information between schools."

Between 2001 and 2012, the number of children across the U.S. who were treated for concussions or traumatic brain injuries more than doubled, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Every state has some kind of concussion law, but Vermont's is pretty comprehensive, requiring each coach and referee to receive training at least every two years.

And the law also says schools must have a "Return to Play" plan, and a "Return to Learn" plan that lays out how and when a student with a concussion can return to the classroom.

Wells says the survey will give state officials a better idea of how schools are doing following the rule, and she says the health department wants to share the best practices that schools are developing.

"What we've heard so far is that people have been supportive, and they have been doing it," Wells says. "This is a way to see if there have been positive results and better understand what concussions in sports in Vermont look like."

The survey will go out to all of the public and state-approved private schools.

Update 4:54 p.m. This story was updated to include a link to the survey that is going out to schools.