Call for concussion safeguards following death of 14-year-old rugby player

Inquest confirms Benjamin Robinson was first person in Northern Irealnd to die from “second impact syndrome”

Ben Robinson: 
a schoolboy rugby player who has become the
first person in Northern Ireland to die from second impact syndrome, a coroner has ruled. Photograph: PA

Ben Robinson: a schoolboy rugby player who has become the first person in Northern Ireland to die from second impact syndrome, a coroner has ruled. Photograph: PA

Wed, Sep 4, 2013, 09:56

Medical experts have said higher standards of safeguarding against concussion in rugby must be adopted following the death of a teenage player.

Benjamin Robinson (14) collapsed on the pitch at Carrickfergus, Co Antrim in January 2011 and died in hospital from head injuries.

At an inquest yesterday, it was confirmed he was the first person in Northern Ireland to die from “second impact syndrome”.

Doctors speaking to The Irish Times said they had no recollection of another case of its kind in the Republic either.

Coroner Suzanne Anderson told the inquest in Belfast she believed the teenager had sustained concussion during a heavy collision with another player at the start of the second half but had played on for a further 25 minutes.


Dazed
Toward the end of the game he was said to be clearly dazed and confused.

“I am satisfied that he sustained concussion in the first four minutes of the second half. Unfortunately neither the team coach nor the referee were made aware of his neurological complaints and he continued to play,” the coroner said.

“I accept the consensus opinion that the features of this death are typical of second impact syndrome which occurs when two concussive-type injuries are sustained in a short space of time.”

Benjamin, who was playing for Carrickfergus Grammar School against Dalriada, collapsed in the final minutes.

Dr John Chute, a sports practitioner and team doctor for the Ireland Under-21 soccer team, said head injuries were particularly dangerous for teenagers whose brains are still developing. “I am not surprised that there has been a death from second concussion syndrome,” he said. “It’s [about] education of coaches, education of parents and education of referees because not every match has a doctor at it.”

Benjamin’s family have consistently argued that he should have been taken off the pitch earlier and believe if modern guidelines on concussion management had been put in place their son would still be alive.