Schoolchildren taught how to recognise signs of concussion
Published 30/09/2015 | 14:17
Schoolchildren across Northern Ireland are being taught to recognise the signs of concussion.
Education Minister John O'Dowd said he hoped the new initiative, being rolled out to all age groups, could help save lives.
He said: "Concussion is a head injury and as such can have serious consequences."
In 2011, Co Antrim teenager Ben Robinson died after sustaining a head injury during a school rugby match.
Mr O'Dowd said the tragedy had brought the issue of concussion into "sharp focus".
"Since then it has been high on my agenda," he added.
The classroom activities include a quiz to check pupils understanding of concussion, how to spot the signs and to encourage young people to tell an adult if they, or a friend have hit their head.
"For young and old, the message is simple - if in doubt, sit them out. Never take a chance where someone's health is concerned.
"With the Rugby World Cup currently under way the dangers of concussion are a major talking point. All of us from the sporting world and across the field of education must redouble our efforts to highlight this issue to recognise concussion, remove the person affected from the field of play and get them assessed," said Mr O'Dowd.
Fourteen-year-old Ben Robinson was the first person in Northern Ireland to die from second impact syndrome.
An inquest into his death in 2013 heard how the Carrickfergus Grammar School pupil had sustained concussion during a heavy collision with another player but, despite his injury, had played on for a further 25 minutes and was involved in two other clashes.
In the final minutes of the game he fell to the ground unconscious and never recovered. He died in hospital two days later.
Since then, the schoolboy's family have been calling for greater awareness of the dangers of concussion and have met the education authorities as part of their campaign.