Following in the footsteps of Victor Horsley, the ‘father of British neurosurgery’, Hugh Cairns continued the tradition of great neurosurgeons associated with the Royal Army Medical Corps. He was a central figure in the acceptance of neurosurgery as a specialty in its own right in Britain, was instrumental in the foundation of Oxford University Medical School, and can legitimately claim to have significantly improved mortality figures in neurosurgical casualties in the Second World War. He was also the driving force in the acceptance of crash helmets for motorcyclists, which have substantially reduced the mortality rates of motorcyclists in those countries in which they have been introduced.
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