Warning over head impacts in young

Benjamin Robinson confirmed first Northern Ireland victim of ‘second impact syndrome’

Benjamin Robinson: died from second impact syndrome. Photograph: PA

Benjamin Robinson: died from second impact syndrome. Photograph: PA


Sports concussions need to be treated more seriously, particularly among vulnerable underage competitors whose brains are still developing, medical professionals have warned.

Speaking after yesterday’s inquest in which Benjamin Robinson (14) was confirmed to be the victim of “second impact syndrome”, sports practitioner Dr John Chute said players required further safeguarding.

“In my view there should be a rule where the player who is concussed must be removed from the field of play [for good],” he said.

‘Long-term effects’
“It’s a common view with pitchside doctors and neurologists: it does have long-term effects. The duty of care of the doctor is to the player and not to the team.”

Dr Chute, who is medic for both the Irish Under-21 soccer team and Tralee Rugby Club in Kerry, says the issue is particularly relevant to teenagers.

“I am not surprised that there has been a death from second concussion syndrome; I am not one bit surprised in the current climate,” he said. “We are likely to see [more fatalities] if a lot of sports continue as they are. If there is a blasé regard to the risk of concussion and if people don’t take heed of the findings. That goes from administrators to coaches and on down.”

Concussed player
At a professional level, the Irish Rugby Football Union recently introduced a five-minute duration during which a concussed player must be monitored before being given the go-ahead to return to the field.

However, former Beaumont Hospital consultant neurosurgeon Jack Phillips, now emeritus professor at the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland said: “I happen to think it should be 10 minutes” in which a concussed player should be monitored. “If they are still concussed, they don’t know who they are playing, don’t know the score, no way should they go back on the pitch.”

He added: “I would recommend that a schoolboy concussed in a game should be taken off the field for good.”

Last night the IRFU expressed its condolences to the family.