Kavanagh College pupil Matt Martin (17) trains at Sky Fitness Gym in Dunedin. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
A Dunedin schoolboy's road to recovery after a major head
injury he received playing rugby has been faster than doctors
Kavanagh College pupil Matt Martin (17) collapsed on the
field when feeding a scrum in August last year.
The halfback hit his head on the ground after a legitimate
tackle and was concussed.
He was later placed in an induced coma.
His memory of the game never returned.
''I'm not too worried about that - it's not something I'd
want to remember.''
The year 13 pupil has now returned to classes and is helping
coach the First XV.
Despite initially wanting to return to rugby, he had accepted
the reality he would never play the game competitively again,
''I'd like to, but I don't really think it's worth the
It would not be feasible to play competitive rugby anyway, as
nobody would want to tackle him, he said.
''I'd get a few tries but not based on skill,'' he laughed.
Matt's recovery was faster than expected.
He stayed in Wakari Hospital's specialist rehabilitation
service, Isis, for about a fortnight, rather than the six
months doctors had told him to expect.
Numbness in his left leg, which he was told could take up to
two years to disappear, had gone and his leg felt normal.
He was still working with a physio and a speech therapist to
help his memory recall.
When he woke from his coma, he did not remember his mother,
Sharon O'Callaghan, had died from cancer the previous year.
But his memories of her had returned quickly, he said.
He had undergone surgery during his recovery.
A titanium plate had been inserted in his head to replace a
piece of skull that had been removed to relieve pressure on
The only real difference in living with a 10cm by 15cm plate
in his head was having to remember he would set off metal
detectors at airport security - something he had recently
done before a flight to Auckland.
''I had completely forgotten about it and it went off,'' he