Recognising the signs of concussion and removing children from the field of play can save lives is the message of a newly launched initiative.
Education Minister John O’Dowd and Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín unveiled the leaflet and poster campaign. It follows the death in 2011 of Carrickfergus Grammar pupil Benjamin Robinson after he sustained a head injury while playing a school rugby match.
Material will be distributed to children, schools and sports clubs. Teachers and coaches will also receive a pocket Concussion Recognition Tool™ to help them identify indicators of the head injury.
Benjamin’s parents Karen and Peter have been to the fore in raising awareness of the dangers associated with concussion. The family has stated: “The tragic thing about Benjamin’s death is that it was preventable. During his rugby match, he clearly showed signs and symptoms of concussion and was assessed on three occasions but was permitted to carry on. We have learnt that with children we have to err on the side of caution and, ‘if in doubt, sit them out’.
“Education regarding concussion is paramount and the Northern Ireland Executive has been fully supportive of this aim. The common message now is that concussion can be fatal – ‘Recognise and Remove’.
“This new leaflet, along with the posters and pocket Concussion Recognition Tool™, will protect children from the short term and long-term dangers of concussion. This leaflet will save lives.”
The materials were developed by the Department of Education and Department of Culture Arts and Leisure, with input from the Chief Medical Officer and the Health and Safety Executive NI.
Speaking at the launch at Queen’s Sport Upper Malone complex, Minister O’Dowd said: “Playing sport and keeping active is a natural and normal part of life for many children and young people. I strongly believe in supporting children to keep fit and active, but it is equally important we take all possible steps to keep them safe when doing so.
“A child can sustain a head injury in many different situations: it could be while playing sport, even one with minimal contact or from a fall in the playground, corridor or even the classroom. I therefore want to make sure that schools, teachers and children themselves are well informed about the risks that can arise from injuries to the head.”
Minister Ní Chuilín said: “The loss of Benjamin Robinson in 2011 was a tragic loss for his family and the wider school and rugby communities and I am sure that this campaign will help to ensure that losses like this will not happen again.”
“His parents Karen and Peter have been to the forefront in raising awareness of the dangers associated with concussion and the message is clear, remove the child from the field of play if they are displaying any signs of concussion.”