ASSI: India has a High Burden of Spine and Brain Injuries

Association of Spine Surgeons of India launches nationwide Injury Prevention Awareness Program: Campaign to Reach 1000000 people across 20 cities in First Phase.

  • According to estimates, in India one million people die and 20 million are hospitalized every year due to injuries with cost of injuries estimated between 0.29% & 0.69% of the GDP
  • Spinal and traumatic brain injuries are the leading cause of death and disability
  • Not just accidents, lifestyle issues such as prolonged sitting or standing, poor posture, carrying heavy bags are also significant contributors to spinal injuries
  • The Injury Prevention Awareness program aims to sensitise policy makers towards focusing on injury prevention initiatives besides educating people in preventing injures and leading spine-healthy lifestyles
  • ASSI to partner with 1000 schools, colleges, organizations and industry bodies across India to further the program

New Delhi, Jan 2021: Traumatic brain injuries and spinal injuries are major causes of death and disability in India and across the world. However, despite an increasing burden, injury prevention remains a highly neglected and underestimated intervention. The apex body of spinal surgeons in India is undertaking a major country wide initiative to address this neglected burden by educating, training and empowering people in preventing injuries.

The Association of Spinal Surgeons of India (ASSI) today announced the launch of a country wide Injuries Prevention Awareness Program that will work towards raising awareness about injury prevention and a spine-healthy lifestyle to reduce injury-related disabilities and  trauma. Sensitising policy makers and enforcement agencies towards implementing effective injury prevention strategies will be another key element of the campaign. ASSI is partnering 1000 institutions including schools, colleges, organizations and industry bodies across India to further the program.

The campaign will be conducted across 20 cities namely New Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Coimbatore, Patna, Thiruvananthapuram, Bhubaneshwar, Chandigarh, Manipal, Vellore, Gurugram, Jaipure, Kota, Ghaziabad and Rajkot. At least 50 institutions including schools, colleges and other bodies will be part of the initiative in each city.

Estimates suggest that one million people die and 20 million are hospitalized every year due to injuries in India. The financial cost of injuries is estimated to be between 0.29% & 0.69% of the Indian GDP, making it an enormous burden. However, a large number of incidents resulting in musculoskeletal injury, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Spinal Cord Injury SCI are preventable as well. Notably, oft neglected conditions such as osteoporosis are also responsible for a significant burden of injuries particularly among the elderly.

"Injuries are one of the most neglected health crisis in the world. Head and Spine injuries are a major cause of death and disability worldwide including India. However, prevention of brain and spinal injuries is hardly given any priority. Community-based prevention programs can be a highly cost effective way to reduce the burden of injuries. To address the lack of primary prevention efforts, ASSI is undertaking a major nationwide campaign that will help create more awareness about improving safety, behavioral changes and adopting spine-healthy lifestyles. The campaign aims to reach 1000000 people over this year through multiple initiatives across schools, colleges, institutions and organizations," said Dr H S Chhabra, President, ASSI and Chief of Spine Services at Indian Spinal Injuries Centre, New Delhi.

Under the program, ASSI is tying up with multiple societies across the country to create an army of trainers who in turn will undertake training and awareness sessions on injury prevention across multiple organizations, schools, colleges and Universities.

"Contrary to what many may assume, it is not just mishaps or accidents that result in spinal injuries. Simple everyday habits such as poor posture, carrying heavy bags, inadequate furniture, unsupervised or excessive physical training or not wearing helmets are major contributors to injuries. Simple interventions such as wearing seatbelts and helmets diligently, using ergonomic furniture in offices and schools and adoption of correct posture can go a long way in reducing the burden of injuries and back pain. Apart from stressing on the need for using effective safety equipment, the awareness program will also incorporate awareness on spine-health lifestyles, posture correction techniques and exercise regimens," said Dr. Gautam Zaveri, Jt. Secretary & Treasurer, ASSI.

"Prevention programs are much cheaper as compared to emergency care to save patient's lives. In fact, the Christopher Reeve Foundation, a leading organization in prevention and treatment in SCI, projected that the US could save an estimated USD 400 billion by providing SCI-based preventive and therapeutic interventions. India where the burden of spine and brain injuries is very high is no different," said Dr. Shankar Acharya, President Elect, ASSAI.

The awareness activities will include creation and distribution of pamphlets on Injury prevention strategies and their inclusion in school magazines and newspapers; conducting poster competitions, lectures and workshops, facilitating nukkad nataks and conducting extensive social media campaigns.

The aim of the Injury Prevention Awareness Program is to improve the health of individuals by preventing injury and illnesses and hence improving the quality of life. The program will also help individuals decrease prevalence of back pain; improve back posture and train for safe activities. The focus would be to reach out to people in the community through educational programs based on the evidence based strategies.

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