Hugh Cairns (surgeon)
|Born||26 June 1896
Port Pirie, South Australia
|Died||18 July 1952
|Known for||crash helmets|
Early years and education
Hugh Cairns was born in Port Pirie, but went to Adelaide for his secondary education at Adelaide High School and tertiary education at the University of Adelaide. He was awarded the 1917 South Australian Rhodes Scholarship and went to the University of Oxford to read Medicine. He was president of the Balliol Boat Club and represented Oxford as bow in the Boat Race of 1920.
Cairns worked as a neurosurgeon at the London Hospital and with Harvey Cushing at Harvard before setting up the Nuffield Department of Surgery in Oxford, in which he became the first Nuffield Professor of Surgery. He was a key figure in the development of neurosurgery as a specialty, the formation of the University of Oxford Medical School, and the treatment of head injuries during the Second World War. The Cairns Library at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford is named after him. A blue plaque for him at his 1920s residence at Loughton has been erected.
Profoundly affected by treating T. E. Lawrence for head injuries during the six days before the latter died after a motorcycle accident, Cairns began a long study of what he saw as the unnecessary loss of life by motorcycle despatch riders through head injuries. His research led to the use of crash helmets by both military and civilian motorcyclists. As a consequence of treating Lawrence, Sir Hugh Cairns would ultimately save the lives of many motorcyclists.
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- Tailor, J; Handa A (Apr. 2007). "Hugh Cairns and the origin of British neurosurgery". British Journal of Neurosurgery (England) 21 (2): 190–6. doi:10.1080/02688690701317193. ISSN 0268-8697. PMID 17453787. Unknown parameter
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- Hughes, J T (Nov. 2001). "Lawrence of Arabia and Hugh Cairns: crash helmets for motorcyclists". Journal of Medical Biography (England) 9 (4): 236–40. ISSN 0967-7720. PMID 11595953.
- Dubb, A (Nov. 1996). "100 years ago - birth centenary - Hugh Cairns (1896-1952): pioneer neurosurgeon". Adler Museum bulletin (South Africa) 22 (3): 25. ISSN 0379-6531. PMID 11619793.