Trauma victims in India most often do not get optimal care during the ‘golden hour’ period after a head injury

Accidents can happen anywhere. A trip or a fall, road accidents or sports injury — these everyday accidents can lead to traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and lifelong scars.

India has the highest rate of head injury in the world with about 120,000 people dying on the roads every year. Half of those who die from TBI do so within the first two hours of injury because early and appropriate management of traumatic brain injuries is crucial for the survival of these patients.

The erstwhile royal of Jodhpur, Maharaja Gajsingh II, has had hismoments of pain and anxiety when his only son Shivraj Singh suffered a severe head injury while playing polo in 2005. As a concerned father watching his son undergo different phases of intensive treatment in Jaipur and Mumbai followed by occupational, speech and neuropsychological support in the U.S., he became acutely aware of the need to have better infrastructure for rapid response and treatment in India.

He could now see why one out of six trauma victims die in India while the figure in the U.S. is one among 200. It was obvious that 95 per cent trauma victims in India do not get optimal care during the ‘golden hour’ period after the injury.

Shivraj’s accident inspired Maharaja Gajsingh to set up the Indian Head Injury Foundation (IHIF) in 2007, with a mission to build a comprehensive system for prevention, diagnosis and treatment of traumatic brain injury and provide neuro-rehabilitation to such patients in the country.

This was followed by the establishment of the state-of-the-art Yuvraj Shivraj Singh Trauma Rehabilitation Centre at Rajdadisa Hospital in Jodhpur. The centre is the first and only specialist neuro-rehab unit in Rajasthan. The mission of the new centre is to provide comprehensive trauma care services to all severely injured patients right from pre-hospital stage (critical trauma ambulance services). The centre offers both preventive and curative help as well as telemedicine facilities at the hospital. Curative programmes include victims’ support groups, the hospital’s integrated rehabilitation approach, and a community health assistant programme.

To take the initiative further, recently a royal auction was organised by Maharaja Gajsingh to raise funds at the first annual Jodhpur One World Retreat (JOWR). “After setting up the foundation five years ago, we now felt that we needed to take it to the next level by raising awareness and resources for the cause and the foundation,” he said.

Carefully selected objects d’art, fascinating heirlooms, 11th and 12th century sculptures, a dazzling collection of royal jewellery and otherheritage treasures were put on auction at the majestic Ummaid Bhavan Palace. “The retreat was an endeavour to bring like minded people from across the world on a common platform to discuss future initiatives,” said Dhananajaya Singh, Trustee, IHIF.

The IHIF has brought together several large institutions like the Bloomberg Foundation, the Global Road Safety Partnership, the Aga Khan Development Network and the Reliance Foundation on a common platform in order to exchange ideas and assets for common goals. The immediate application of funds will go towards the development and upgradation of IHIF's two existing Neuro-Rehabilitation Units, in Delhi and Jodhpur.

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