Schoolboy Rugby Player Killed From First Ever Case Of 'Second Impact Syndrome'

14/08/2014 16:53 | Updated 22 May 2015

First ever case of 'second impact syndrome' kills schoolboy rugby player Stock image

A schoolboy rugby player died from the first recorded case in the UK of 'second impact syndrome' after two separate blows to the head during a match.

An inquest heard that Benjamin Robinson, 14, collapsed on the pitch at Carrickfergus, County Antrim, in Northern Ireland, in January 2011 and died in hospital from head injuries.

Coroner Suzanne Anderson told an 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, despite his injury, had played on for a further 25 minutes.

"I am satisfied that he sustained concussion in the first four minutes of the second half. Unfortunately neither the team coach or the referee were made aware of his neurological complaints and he continued to play," Ms Anderson said.

Benjamin, who was playing for Carrickfergus Grammar School, was involved in two other clashes during the game with Dalriada at his school grounds.

In the final minutes he fell to the ground unconscious and, despite frantic efforts by a doctor who had been spectating and medics at the Royal Victoria Hospital, he never recovered.

The coroner added: "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.

"It is exceptionally rare but can affect young people between 14 and 18 whilst engaged in sporting activity.

"This is the first recorded death of its kind in Northern Ireland and most probably the first in the UK.

"Medical science is not able to ascertain why an individual can succumb to this exceedingly rare syndrome."

There is some evidence that children are more susceptible to second impact syndrome than adults because their brains cannot recover as well from a minor knock.

Outside the court, the schoolboy's parents said they would fight for the introduction of new legislation to protect young people engaged in contact sports.

His father, Peter Robinson, said: "We welcome the Coroner's findings and the recognition that there was a concussion early in the second half and he played a full half with concussion.

"Obviously it has been highlighted about education - it is about getting the message out to the schools. We had a policy in America, a template for all of this, that can be put in place tomorrow if they wanted.

"I would love to fight for Ben's Law because why should children in the UK not have the rights like in America."

The family argue that Benjamin 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.

The cause of death was officially recorded as cerebral oedema and subdural haemorrhage associated with second impact syndrome.


Suggest a correction