Public Release:  Kessler Foundation researchers predict hidden epidemic of neurological disability for India

In a report published in the Nov. 20 issue of Neurology, US/Indian researchers identify hidden epidemic of neurologic disability for India fueled by brain injury, stroke and age-related dementia

Kessler Foundation

West Orange, NJ. November 19, 2012. The 'Global Perspectives' published in the Nov. 20, 2012 issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, features "Neurologic Disability: A Hidden Epidemic for India". The authors, a team of US and Indian scientists, detail three emerging trends contributing to this public heath problem and outline measures to stem its growth. Abhijit Das, MD, DM, Amanda Botticello, PhD, MPH, and Glenn Wylie, DPhil, are researchers at Kessler Foundation in West Orange, New Jersey. Kurupath Radhakrishnan, MD, DM, FAAN, is the director and professor of neurology at Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology in Trivandrum, India.

Analysis of epidemiologic data showed the rise in neurologic disability in India is fueled by increases in traumatic brain injury (TBI), age-related dementia, and stroke. Together, these three account for more than 3.5 million new cases of disability each year. That is 11,000 each day, or 7 people every minute who acquire a neurologic disability, emphasized Dr. Radhakrishnan. "Because of the uneven distribution of wealth and health care, the rural poor are disproportionately affected. Lack of awareness and stigma associated with disability contribute to the problem," he noted. "To combat the immense implications for India, urgent changes are needed in health policy, education, research and delivery of care." The authors identified four areas where urgent action can help stem this epidemic--enforcement of traffic safety measures to reduce TBI, development of standardized data tools for assessment and accurate statistics, training of more professionals in neurorehabilitative care, and expanded research in neurorehabilitation.

The socioeconomic burden of neurological disability cannot be overstated, according to Nancy Chiaravalloti, PhD, director of Neuropsychology, Neuroscience & TBI Research at Kessler Foundation. "This includes the significant burdens on the patients' families, both financially and psychologically. This article identifies the actions that are needed in India. Research and clinical collaborations between the US and India could greatly facilitate the development and implementation of neurologically focused data collection tools, as well as the training of professionals in research and clinical care."

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Abhijit Das, MD, DM, a postdoctoral fellow in Neuropsychology & Neuroscience Research at Kessler Foundation is funded through the National Institute on Disability & Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR)'s Advanced Rehabilitation Research Training (ARRT) Program (H113P090009). Dr. Das is mentored by Glenn Wylie, DPhil, assistant director of Neuroscience and Dr. Chiaravalloti, PhD, principal investigator for the Foundation's ARRT grant in Neurocognitive Rehabilitation. This study was supported by NIDRR ARRT grant and Kessler Foundation.

Drs. Das, Botticello, Wylie and Chiaravalloti have faculty appointments in the Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at the University of Medicine & Dentistry in Newark, NJ.

About SCTIMST

Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST) is an Institute of National Importance in India. This Institute has a dedicated team of clinicians, scientists and engineers devoted to high quality biomedical research and developing technologies in health care with emphasis on cardiovascular and neurological diseases. SCTIMST has pioneered advanced neurological therapies in India such as epilepsy surgery and deep brain stimulation.

About Kessler Foundation

Kessler Foundation, a large public charity in the field of disability, advances care through rehabilitation research that improves function and quality of life for persons with injuries of the spinal cord and brain, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and other chronic neurological conditions. Kessler Foundation Program Center fosters new approaches to the persistently high rates of unemployment among people disabled by injury or disease. Targeted grant making funds promising programs across the nation.

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