Teenager's life was changed after suffering a brain injury on the rugby field - now his mum wants better safety measures

David Griffiths, who loved both football and rugby, suffered frontal lobe damage after a brain haemorrhage, aged 16.

The devastating injury left the teenager with behavioural, memory and concentration problems and requiring 24-hour care. His heartbroken mother Mandy has called for better safety precautions at youth level – and urgent improvements in care for brain injury survivors in Wales. David, from Goldcliff, near Newport, was playing scrum half for Pill Harriers RFC 13 years ago when he took a knock to the side of the head. “He went down, but he didn’t stay down,” said Mrs Griffiths, who is now her son’s full-time carer. “He carried on for a bit but then he came off after feeling a bit odd. He then went to play football in the afternoon, but his headaches just got worse throughout the day.” After a brief stint at the Royal Gwent Hospital, David was back in A&E just two days later when he was violently sick. Doctors revealed the young man had suffered frontal lobe damage caused after a brain haemorrhage he sustained on the rugby field. He was transferred to the University Hospital of Wales to stop the bleeding on his brain – but the damage had already been done. Now David has problems using the right side of his body, has vision in just one eye and has complex behavioural difficulties. Read more: Woman forced to rebuild her life after brain injury will shave her hair to raise awareness “He would love to find himself a girlfriend and learn to drive, but those things won’t happen for him now,” said Mrs Griffiths. “He’s changed a lot since the accident, but he’s still my David deep down." Following treatment at the Royal Gwent Hospital and a nine-month stay at Cardiff’s Rookwood rehabilitation hospital, he moved to a series of care homes all over the country before his family were allowed to bring him back home permanently. Mrs Griffiths claims delays in diagnosing her son’s condition at the Royal Gwent contributed to the extent of his brain damage. Aneurin Bevan University Health Board admitted negligence and awarded the family compensation five years ago. “If he had been treated earlier I don’t believe he would have suffered such problems,” added Mrs Griffiths. “We had to battle for years to get compensation.” Despite her son’s catastrophic injury, Mrs Griffiths and family remain avid rugby fans and will passionately support Warren Gatland’s men at the Rugby World Cup. But she admits watching the likes of George North sustain bad head injuries brings the heartache of David’s condition flooding back. “David still watches rugby, but he gets distracted very easily,” she added. “It’s very scary seeing players like George North suffer head injuries. You just cringe every time someone takes a knock. “I think scrum caps need to be worn by all children, and I think all head injuries need to be treated more thoroughly. “The treatment of head injuries is so much better in England than Wales. Our services are lagging behind.” In response to Mrs Griffiths’ claims, Aneurin Bevan University Health Board said: “We cannot comment in detail on individual cases, however, we can confirm that this case was investigated and a settlement made to the family. “We would like to again apologise to Mr Griffiths and his family for the failings in care identified and the harm this caused to Mr Griffiths. Improvements have been made to our services following this sad case.”
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