Father of tragic Ben Robinson calls for concussion laws

Last Updated: 29/01/14 3:53pm

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A grieving father has called for drastic change to the ways in which British sport deals with the issue of concussion.

Ben Robinson was just 14 when he died as a result of concussion. During the final minute of his school rugby match he collapsed, fell unconscious and never woke up.

His father, Peter, has been campaigning for teachers and youth coaches to receive training to help prevent a repeat of the tragedy.

Peter told Sky Sports: "Ben was involved in a heavy tackle in the first minute into the second half. It was a collision and you see the whiplash effect of his head coming forward. He went to the ground and you realised he had been knocked out.

"The coach was with him and assessing him and he was allowed to play on. There were two further instances where Ben was assessed. He was again involved in heavy tackles but in between these tackles you could see him holding his head and his body language had changed.

"You could see him holding his temple with his right hand. He was like an old man with his head forced forward.

"The experts tell me that if Ben had been removed after the first concussion he still would be here."

Brain swelling

Dr Willie Stewart, a consultant neuropathologist at the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow, said: "Particularly in the case of adolescence, part of the concussion injury seems to involve the way blood passes through the brain. So a second concussion can produce brain swelling and that's the anxiety."

Peter is campaigning for mandatory concussion training throughout junior rugby. This month saw progress as the Scottish government launched a Concussion Awareness leaflet in all schools.

He said: "Schools are the way forward. Then no matter what sport you go on to play you have that awareness. What we found out was that there was a serious lack of knowledge of what procedures to follow. What do mum and dad do when their son or daughter comes home?

"I think take a leaf out of America with the protocols, the Zackery Lystedt Law."

American Zackery Lystedt was just 13 when he sustained concussion. He returned to the field only to collapse again later. Lystedt's injuries left him permanently disabled.

In May 2009, the state of Washington passed a new bill, requiring any youth showing signs of concussion to be examined by a health care professional before returning to play.

Despite progress in some areas, Peter believes the International Rugby Board is failing to properly address the issue.

He said: "Personally I think the IRB are being bullied into something now by the public are reacting to this. I can't understand how there's not a policy in place that covers all Unions. It's a one-off policy that everyone should agree to adhere to.

"Ben would have gone on to do great things but something good must come out of it and we must prevent something like this happening again. Maybe getting a Benjamin Law put in like the Zackery Law. I don't see why this shouldn't be done."

Three years on from Ben's death, Concussion Awareness Training is still not mandatory in youth or school rugby.

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