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Rowan Stringer inquest hopefully last of its kind, concussion expert says

The rugby-related death of Rowan Stringer was a "perfect storm" of events that proves everyone needs education on concussions, a renowned brain injury expert told the coroner's inquest on Thursday.

Stringer, 17, died after suffering 3 concussions in less than a week

Rowan Stringer died after she was tackled hard during a rugby game on May 8, 2013. (Facebook)

The rugby-related death of Rowan Stringer was a "perfect storm" of events that proves everyone needs education on concussions, a renowned brain injury expert told the coroner's inquest on Thursday.

Stringer, 17, suffered a third concussion in less than a week when her head and neck struck the ground while she was playing a high school rugby match on May 8, 2013.

She died in hospital four days later from Second Impact Syndrome, where a pre-existing injury followed by another head blow can cause death.

Dr. Charles Tator, a concussion specialist, testified at the coroner's inquest of Rowan Stringer. (CBC)
Dr. Charles Tator, who is the inquest's final witness, testified that Second Impact Syndrome is rare and the final head blow was "caused" by her previous two concussions.

"Those injuries set in motion [her fatal hit]," Tator said.

He also said you "can't get worse" than Stringer's score on the Glasgow Coma Scale, 3/15, on the day of her final head blow. He also said her struggles during a driving test beforehand was a "really significant" indicator of her brain injury.

Tator spoke about the need for increased funding in concussion prevention across Canada. He also said he hopes this coroner's inquest is the last ever ordered into a young athlete's brain injury death.

Jury to recommend ways to prevent concussion deaths

The inquest is examining the circumstances surrounding Stringer's death, including areas of head injury recognition in high school field sports.

The jury may make recommendations aimed at preventing similar deaths.​​

Eight days of the inquest have featured testimony from Stringer's mother Kathleen, as well as her friends, coaches, the final game's referee, medical and school board officials, and concussion experts.

On the inquest's first day, friend Michelle Hebert said Stringer ignored concussion symptoms including fatigue and headaches and continued to play. Kathleen Stringer said she believed her daughter's role as captain played a part in her passion to play through head pain.

Kathleen Stringer, left, and her husband Gordon each took part at the coroner's inquest in their own way. Kathleen testified, while Gordon questioned one witness. (CBC)
Coach Leah Dobbin testified earlier this week she spoke with Stringer before the final game and talked about her well-being, but admitted she knew little about concussions at the time.

This upset Stringer's father Gordon, who said he was "disturbed" and "confused" by Dobbin's inability to remember certain parts of the discussion.

"My memory is foggy because that day was quite traumatic," Dobbin testified on Tuesday.

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