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Australian Rugby Player Sustains Fatal Brain Injury

The brain injury risk associated with playing rugby has made the headlines again after an Australian rugby union player sustained a fatal brain injury during a game.

Quirindi Lions fly-half Nicholas Tooth clashed heads with an opposing player whilst making a tackle and sustained a head injury. The 25 year-old was airlifted to a hospital in Newcastle, New South Wales but sadly died the following day.

Representatives from the Lions say that Nicholas’ death was a “tragic accident” with no foul play involved. It was a heart-breaking case of someone dying in a sports accident doing something they loved.

Nicholas Tooth died after a traumatic brain injury, but many other rugby players suffer another type of brain injury week in, week out – concussion. It’s at all levels of the sport that players become concussed playing the game, with some tragic consequences.

In 2011, 14 year-old Ben Robinson sustained fatal injuries during a school rugby match. A Coroner ruled that Ben died from Second Impact Syndrome, a rare condition where a second concussion develops before the first concussion has healed properly. Put simply, Ben took too many blows to the head in too short a space of time.

Research conducted by the Rugby Football Union (RFU) reported that concussion rates during the 2013-14 Aviva Premiership season were 59% higher than the previous year. This follows new rules about the assessment and management of concussion in rugby players, announced by the RFU in October 2014. Changes to the rules include allowing medical staff up to 10 minutes to examine players for concussion and a strict rule that any player with confirmed or suspected concussion will be permanently removed from the game. All players, coaches and officials are also now obliged to pass an online training course designed to improve their awareness and understanding of concussion.

Headway, the brain injury association, welcomed the new concussion rules, saying that “More needs to be done to make players aware of what a concussion is and what the dangers are of not managing head injuries properly.”

Also see: Increase in Rugby Head Injuries Builds Awareness of Players’ Wellbeing

Ken Brough is a senior personal injury solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in London.

Slater and Gordon Lawyers offer a free consultation for anyone injured in a sports accident through no fault of their own. Call us on freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online and we’ll be happy to help you. Most cases are funded through a No Win, No Fee agreement which means there is no financial risk to you.

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