January 18, 1998, Heretaunga, New Zealand. 26 year old Leonardo Va’a collapses and convulses after attempting a tackle during a local rugby league match. He never wakes up, dying in hospital the next day.
Va’a died due to second impact syndrome, having sustained a concussion the previous day and telling club officials he had been cleared to play.
Watching that game and attending to Va’a as he convulsed on the field was Doug King, an emergency room nurse.
King was abused and blamed for the death of Va’a until it was revealed the player had been told to give the game away five years earlier after multiple concussions.
Wellington coroner Garry Evans, in 2001, recommended a register of injuries be implemented to give officials better oversight of player injuries.
However, the NZRL said it already had a well-known concussion policy including mandatory stand down periods, but everything came back to relying on truthful reporting from clubs and players.
Fast forward to 2012 and King, this time with a masters and two PhDs focussing on concussion to his name, watches a 17 year old convulsing after attempting a tackle.
Assessing the impacts and risk of concussion and head knocks in the NRL.
In part two of the concussion series we’re looking at CTE, head knocks and how concussion is currently being treated in the sporting world.
Concussion remains a serious issue in rugby league and professional sport. So how is it being addressed by sports and researchers alike?