Del. Tony Wilt, R-Broadway, left, poses for a photo with Cindy Noftsinger, executive director of Brain Injury Connections of the Shenandoah Valley.
In the last two years, Del. Tony Wilt, R-Broadway, has introduced legislation to benefit individuals impacted by a brain injury and pushed for approval. After sponsoring two bills that passed with no opposition, Wilt was recognized for his efforts and named the Brain Injury Association of Virginia Legislator of the Year.
“It was a surprise, and I was certainly honored to receive such an award,” Wilt said.
Founded in 1983, the Brain Injury Association of Virginia works to improve the quality of life of those affected by a brain injury by advancing education, awareness, support, treatment and research, according to its website.
Wilt received the accolade during the association’s annual ceremony recognizing advocates and association members for their work.
Executive Director Anne McDonnell said in a press release that recipients of the award are selected due to their “outstanding public service and support of the brain injury community,” and Wilt fit the bill.
“Delegate Wilt patroned bills to improve crisis responses and expand treatment options for persons with brain injury, and we are very grateful for his interest in and genuine care for those we serve,” she said in a press release.
Wilt said he sponsored legislation to try and help those with brain injuries and fix issues they are facing.
“I’ve always had a special place in my heart for citizens who have challenges that limit their abilities,” he said.
During the 2021 General Assembly session, Wilt sponsored legislation to amend the Board of Education’s definition of “traumatic brain injury” to include an injury to the brain caused by a medical condition.
Wilt said the idea behind the legislation was brought to him by a constituent, Amanda Morris. Previously, a traumatic brain injury included only brain injuries caused by external physical force.
“It was from personal experience,” Wilt said.
Wilt’s bill, which was approved by the General Assembly with no opposition, added strokes, anoxia, infectious disease, brain tumors and neurological insults resulting from medical or surgical treatments to the definition of an acquired brain injury caused by a medical condition.
The year prior, Wilt worked to pass a bill that requires curriculum on brain injury as part of the four-hour mandatory training in legal issues for crisis intervention programs. The bill also added the Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services and brain injury stakeholders to the list of organizations the Department of Criminal Justice Services is required to consult when developing the training program.
The legislation also passed with no opposition.
Wilt said in a press release that the intent of the legislation was for heightened awareness of brain injury, and the ability to recognize signs and symptoms would lead to improved outcomes for those in crisis suffering from a brain injury.
During Thursday’s ceremony, Wilt said he heard two stories about how the bill was applied to a real-life situation, which Wilt said he found encouraging.