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“Dylan Steigers Protection of Youth Athletes Act” receives broad spectrum of support at Legislature

Montana one of seven states without a concussion policy for young athletes

HELENA — Sen. Anders Blewett’s (D-Great Falls) bill to protect student athletes from brain injuries was heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday morning. SB 112 would require each school district to implement a standardized concussion policy which informs athletes, parents, coaches, officials, and trainers of the nature and risks of brain injuries. It would also require student athletes who sustain concussions to obtain clearance from a medical professional before they are allowed to return to competition.

More than 43 states have adopted similar concussion laws. The educational policies will rely on information that is readily available from the Center for Disease Control and would impose a negligible cost on school districts.

“We need to start viewing brain injuries in the same light that we view other disfiguring injuries.” said Blewett, “The experience of other states proves that implementing these standardized educational and safety policies helps prevent the devastating effects of repeat brain injuries for young athletes.”

The bill received a broad spectrum of support which included concerned parents, health care professionals, the Montana High School Association, the Montana School Board Association, the Montana Medical Association, and the Montana Brain Injury Alliance. There was no opposition.

“The personal testimony and overwhelming support we heard today reaffirms the need to take action,” said Blewett. “We owe it to our young athletes to do everything in our power to prevent repeat brain injuries.”

The legislation is named after Dylan Steigers, a former Missoula Sentinel athlete who passed away after sustaining a brain injury in a college football scrimmage at Eastern Oregon University. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, the leading cause of death from sport-related injuries is traumatic brain injury.

The issue of concussions is personal for Blewett, who represents many clients with brain injury in his civil law practice. As a former collegiate football player at Harvard University, Blewett has also witnessed the devastating impact that concussions have had on the lives of many of his friends and teammates.

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