First grade junior high school student in wheel chair: brain injury from osotogari in judo

First grade junior high school student in wheel chair: brain injury from osotogari in judo

A teenage boy with severe disabilities due to a judo injury lives a courageous life. He suffered acute subdural hematoma during judo practice in a local judo club in Tomisugu, Okinawa Prefecture. The mother of the boy has appealed that the same injury must not be repeated, stressing that judo instructors need to have knowledge to protect children’s safety.

Hinata Ohoshiro

A thirteen-year-old, first grade junior high school student, Hinata Ohshiro, who lives in Kishiwada, Osaka Prefecture, attends a special school in a wheelchair. Due to a brain injury, his left hand does not move and the visual field in his left eye is extremely narrow. He can talk now as a result of rehabilitation, but the distance he can walk is limited and he requires help during meals. For the last two years, epileptic seizures have often occurred. His mother Kanae (32) said she could not let him out of her sight because he was unable to get up by himself when he collapsed during seizures.

Kanae and her husband got divorced due to the gap in their views about Hinata’s future after the injury. She returned to her parents’ house in Kishiwada to raise Hinata, his sister (6) and his brother (4) with the help of her parents. She said, “Hinata is alive, but he has lost everything else he had. His life was almost taken.” She was so busy taking care of Hinata that she didn’t notice his little brother had started walking for some time.

The injury occurred during judo practice, in which children took turns to throw their opponent for one minute. Hinata, who was a third grade elementary school student at the time, paired with a fifth grade boy. Their weight difference was insignificant but compared to Hinata, who had started judo six months prior, the opponent had higher capability and more experience.

According to the headmaster’s explanation to Kanae, Hinata cried after the first throw. When the headmaster asked Hinata if he had hit his head, he knodded and said “It hurts”. But since he grasped the judogi of the opponent, showing his wish to continue, the boys returned to practice. After Hinata was thrown again and it became his turn to throw, he swayed as he walked and collapsed.

It was osotogari (large outer reaping) that Hinata received on the first throw. The All Japan Judo Federation (AJJF) had warned judo instructors to carefully consider the children’s level of falling techniques before allowing the use of osotogari.

Osotogari (large outer)

The physician at the hospital told Kanae that there was no bruise on Hinata’s head. The physician explained that Hinata did not hit his head, but because he was strongly shaken, the vein ruptured due to the acceleration of the brain and caused acute subdural hematoma, which became worse after the second impact.

The headmaster said in the interview by the Asahi Shimbun, “Hinata was able to fall properly against osotogari, but I should not have paired the two with difference in ability levels. Now I consider school grades and experience of judo to carefully determine pairs of students. I intend to attend the Safety Instruction Seminar held by the All Japan Judo Federation.”

Hinata shed tears looking at himself in the mirror. Kanae saw this and couldn’t help saying, “We can die together.”

In Japanese junior high and high schools, since the injury to Hinata, three students have died and three are in persistent vegetative state due to injuries sustained in judo club activities. “I don’t know for what my son was injured. Instructors teaching judo must have better knowledge and make use of what happened to this child,” said Kanae.

◆19 died of head injuries between 2003 and 2015

Many of the severe injuries in judo are head traumas. Of the 44 major head injuries reported to the AJJF between 2003 and 2015, 19 were fatal. According to the analysis of the AJJF, the following are the common features of many severe head injuries:

  1. The victims were beginners who have not fully acquired falling techniques.
  2. There were major differences in the level of capabilities between the victim and the opponent.
  3. Brain injury occurred due to acceleration of the head in a throw.
  4. The victim complained of a headache before the injury.

All 4 features applied to Hinata’s case.

The AJJF has recently stated the main features of serious injuries on their website and in their booklets in order to inform people that “safe instruction of beginners will eliminate severe injuries”. Of the 29 cases of severe head trauma between 2003 and 2014, for which techniques used had been identified, osotogari was applied in 15 cases and it was the most frequently used technique. The AJJF stated, “It is extremely risky to throw beginners with osotogari,” emphasizing that instructors must carefully consider if the student has acquired falling techniques and is capable of receiving osotogari when it is used.

Mr. Seiki Nose, the chairman of the Serious Accident Comprehensive Measures Ad-Hoc Committee, said, “The victims of injuries and their families do not think that the event is over. Our goal is to eliminate serious injuries and establish safe judo. We are going to issue an easy-to-understand booklet, because it seems that many instructors have not read the booklet.”

The AJJF has recently received a report that in April this year a first year high school student with judo experience hit the back of his head and received emergency surgery due to acute subdural hematoma. (The Asahi Shimbun senior staff writer, Toru Nakakoji)

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