Updated 03 March 2015

School rugby player from Brandfort sustains a serious head injury

A young rugby player sustained a head injury during a school rugby match in Brandfort, Free State on Saturday.


ER24 spokesman Russel Meiring said the boy was airlifted from a school after he sustained the injury.

"Paramedics were providing medical assistance at the school when they noticed one of the rugby boys take a hard tackle.

Dr Owen Wiese of Health24 says the first things the paramedics would have done is 1: check that the person is breathing and that his airway is clear and 2: stabilise the neck to prevent any spinal cord injury

If there were signs of spinal cord injury, medics would want to protect the neck using a neck brace and to keep the patient immobile and stable for transfer.

On assessment, paramedics found that the patient was unconscious with a serious head injury. The boy was treated and airlifted to Rosepark Hospital in Bloemfontein. 

Dr Wiese explains that concussions sustained during rugby games are common injuries that often occur as a result of a direct blow to the head. "Even a light, direct blow to the head might cause significant brain damage and should not be taken lightly,", he said.

Symptoms and signs of concussion

The symptoms  vary widely and might be as subtle as a slight headache reported by the injured player, or as profound as complete disorientation to time, place or person.  

Other symptoms might include giddiness, dizziness, unsteadiness and double vision.  All of this should be regarded as danger symptoms and the player should be removed from the playing field for evaluation by medical personnel.

 Most important danger signs:

  1. Worsening and persistent headaches
  2. Weakness of any body part
  3. Confusion
  4. Change in behaviour and restlessness
  5. Vomiting and nausea


How to identify and treat a concussion

About concussion and head injury in rugby players

Dr Wiese says that if bleeding is involved in the brain injury, the patient's breathing will be affected.

The most commonly asked question is “When can I start playing sport again?” 

After a serious concussion injury it is important to make sure the player is fit to play.   The player should be fully evaluated by a medical doctor to exclude danger signs. Once all danger signs are excluded the player should still be checked up regularly. Sport coaches should be aware of the dangers of concussion and should be on the lookout for any suspicious signs.  

Watch: David Dodick, M.D., neurologist and concussion expert at Mayo Clinic in Arizona discusses the consequences of returning to play too soon 

Read more:

Rugby concussion danger
The two main types of head injuries
BokSmart's ten commandments

Image: youngsters playing rugby, Paolo Bona /


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