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Regional Report: Concussion Bill Signed Into Law

Concern over concussions and other serious injuries in young student-athletes led to a bill signed into law this week by Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin. The law will help treat and prevent concussions on high school sports fields across Vermont.

The new law is set to take effect July 1, 2015, giving the state time to research concussion rates in various sports. Football, hockey, lacrosse and wrestling will fall under the umbrella of “collision” sports. The law will require more training of coaches and referees, and will bring in medical professionals to advise where needed.

Host Mitch Wertlieb is joined by Burlington Free Press reporter Molly Walsh, who covered the story.

Interview Highlights:

On returning to the field after an injury:

“The new law allows coaches and trainers to seek an opinion from a medical professional before allowing a student to return. Many students really want to get back on the field- their fan base wants them to get back on the field. By putting a medical professional in charge of that decision, it may help reduce the pressure.”

On requiring more sports to seek medical advice:

“The law does require or ask a committee to collect data about sports-related concussions at school sporting events in Vermont, and give the legislature a report on the frequency of these injuries in various sports. The hope is that because the mandate doesn’t take effect until 2015, this information may provide additional guidance. So lawmakers can tweak the law if needed. That being said, I think everyone’s pretty conscious of the expense of adding more sports that require a medical professional.”

A graduate of NYU with a Master's Degree in journalism, Mitch has more than 20 years experience in radio news. He got his start as news director at NYU's college station, and moved on to a news director (and part-time DJ position) for commercial radio station WMVY on Martha's Vineyard. But public radio was where Mitch wanted to be and he eventually moved on to Boston where he worked for six years in a number of different capacities at member station a Senior Producer, Editor, and fill-in co-host of the nationally distributed Here and Now. Mitch has been a guest host of the national NPR sports program "Only A Game". He's also worked as an editor and producer for international news coverage with Monitor Radio in Boston.
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