Belfast Telegraph

Schools warned of concussion danger

Education Minister John O'Dowd has written to schools across Northern Ireland about the dangers of concussion.

Benjamin Robinson, 14, died from a rare version of traumatic brain injury called second impact syndrome after a school rugby match in Co Antrim in January 2011.

It can happen when a second head knock is suffered by somebody already suffering from concussion.

Benjamin was involved in several heavy tackles before collapsing at the end of the game.

Mr O'Dowd said: " I have already signalled that I wanted to ensure that no other family goes through what Benjamin's family has been through and I will continue to consider if there is anything more that can be done to raise awareness of concussion for those involved in sport at school."

Benjamin was playing for his school, Carrickfergus Grammar. He was seen holding his head before falling to the ground during the fixture against Dalriada.

He had been momentarily knocked out at the start of the second half of play.

During the inquest his parents argued he should have been taken off the pitch at that point in the game, but he played on to the final whistle, when he was clearly confused, and died in hospital from his injuries.

His school principal called for rules to be put in place to guide staff as well as better training after experts pointed to flaws in a common test for concussion.

The coroner at Benjamin's Belfast inquest said this was the first such death of its kind recorded in Northern Ireland.

She told the hearing in September that it was also probably the first such case in the UK and highlighted the importance of recognising the symptoms of concussion.

Mr O'Dowd added: "I have written to all local schools as I want to ensure that schools are aware of the dangers of concussion and the fact that it can lead to death.

"I also want to highlight second impact syndrome, a rare condition which can occur when a person with symptoms related to concussion suffers a second head injury.

"Sadly this was, according to the coroner's report, the cause of Benjamin Robinson's death in 2011 following a head injury sustained whilst playing a school rugby match."

Mr O'Dowd said he and Caral Ni Chuilin, the minister for culture, arts and leisure, met Benjamin's parents in recent weeks. He has also discussed raising awareness with the chief medical officer.

His letter directs schools to the concussion recognition tool (CRT), which contains a checklist to help coaches, teachers and parents recognise the signs of concussion.

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