Intercession or intercessory prayer is the act of praying on behalf of someone else.
The study, 'Role of intercessory prayer in determining the outcome after Severe Traumatic Brain Injury (STBI)', is funded by apex medical research body, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), and doctors at the Centre-run Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital's neurosurgery department are in the process of compiling the results and draw a conclusion.
STBI is caused by external trauma to the head, such as due to a fall or car accident.
"The aim of the study is to evaluate whether intercessory prayer has any direct or indirect effect on an unconscious STBI patient, reduces the psychological stress and serum cytokines level and improves the patient outcome," a note related to the study stated.
Forty patients suffering from severe brain injury were observed.
As a part of the study, blood relatives or very close relatives of the patients were made to attend prayers during which Mahamrityunjay chants were uttered to instill positivity, faith and confidence in them and see if that has any role in the recovery of the patients, head of the neurosurgery department Dr Ajay Chaudhary said.
The prayers were conducted at the Devasadnam temple located in the campus of the Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha.
According to sources, Dr Ashok Kumar, who is presently working as a senior research fellow at the department of neurosurgery at the RML hospital, had proposed the project at AIIMS in 2014, where he was then employed as a senior resident in the neuropharmacology department.
However, the proposal was rejected by the ethics committee at AIIMS citing it has "unscientific" basis. The study was initiated at the RML hospital in October 2016 and ended in April.
"The medical outcomes on these patients will be compared to assess and evaluate the impact of intercessory prayer on the patients with severe brain injury. We are in the process of compiling the data and drawing a conclusion after which we would be able to say whether such spiritual chants have any scientific validity and can be effective in the recovery process," Dr Chaudhary, who is the guide of Kumar's project said.