Key themes in trauma recovery identified in conference report from Royal Society and Invictus Games Foundation collaboration

04 August 2020

Key areas where technology, treatment and research can transform the lives of individuals after trauma are set out today in the conference report produced from a partnership between the Royal Society and the Invictus Games Foundation.

This unique event, held at the Society on 4 March 2020, explored recent innovations in the field of trauma science and recovery and brought together individuals who had experienced mental and physical trauma with leading experts from industry, academia, the military and healthcare.

The report (PDF) summarises key research presented at the event and highlights a number of themes which were discussed or identified by speakers as critical to trauma recovery, or priorities for future work, including:

  • Technological and healthcare developments for trauma recovery within the military bring significant benefit to the wider civilian population.Sleep is an overlooked and critical factor in the recovery of mental health disorders caused by trauma
  • New treatments and initiatives can help individuals with visual impairments and patients on acute trauma wards to regulate their sleep and regain emotional and physiological health
  • Traumatic Brain Injury and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder share symptoms and are often misdiagnosed. Greater investment and research are needed to diagnose and treat the conditions correctly and efficiently
  • While there is great momentum and funding to develop new treatments during times of conflict, there is a need to maintain this in times of peace so that we are better placed to help veterans in the future

The conference was part of the Royal Society’s Transforming our future series which looks at major technical and scientific challenges of the next decade and brings together experts from a wide range of sectors to exchange ideas and build new connections.

The Trauma Recovery report concludes: “Sectors must work in concert to consider what can be achieved in the short and medium term (periods of years not decades), how to drive these achievements forward and how to prioritise based on the experiences of those who have suffered traumatic injury in order to drive forward change for the better.”

As well as inspiring recovery through its international sporting competitions, the Invictus Games Foundation works internationally to support initiatives for wounded, injured and sick service personnel, and to foster international collaborations for recovery and rehabilitation.

The Foundation has produced a short video from the event and is looking at future opportunities to work with the science and health sector to advance these goals.

Dominic Reid OBE, Chief Executive of the Invictus Games Foundation, said: “The Royal Society is about excellence in science. The Invictus Games Foundation is about the excellence found within the human spirit, and these two organisations coming together has tremendous power. We will continue to foster international collaboration such as this report on Trauma Recovery with the Royal Society in order to influence the development of research and the body of knowledge around trauma recovery and rehabilitation through the power of sport.”

Professor Russell Foster CBE FRS, a neuroscientist at the University of Oxford and one of the conference organisers, said: “While injury and trauma are facts of life, trauma need not be a life sentence.

“The Royal Society is committed to promoting science for the benefit of humanity, and this collaboration with the Invictus Games Foundation truly achieves these ideals and shows how, working together across sectors and with those who have experienced trauma, science can transform lives.”