From the beginning of our work, clinical practice went hand-in-hand with research.

Professor Sir Ludwig Guttmann

Panel about Pioneers and Research at the NSIC Paralympic Heritage exhibition

Many people have and continue to contribute to the pioneering research at the Centre. Here are a few of the stories on display at the exhibition.

Dr John Silver

Dr Silver first carried out research with Dr Guttmann in the 1960s. He later returned to the Centre as Chairman of the Division of Spinal Injury. He has published extensively on the treatment of spinal injuries. His concern and research into neck injuries in rugby union has played a major role in changing how the game is played and lead to a dramatic reduction in tetraplegia for players.

In the 1960s Reginald Maling, Roger Jefcoate CBE DL and Joy Wakefield all contributed to the development of Possum (meaning ‘I can’ in Latin), Patient Operated Selector Mechanism, which allowed tetraplegic patients to use their mouths and breath to operate household and work equipment. Roger also developed microswitches so patients like Hilary Pole could operate equipment through her toe - the only place she had movement - and the world’s first electronic life support ventilator.

AV: Dr John Silver

Dr Hans Frankel OBE 

Dr Frankel was recruited to the Centre by Dr Guttmann becoming Consultant in Spinal Injuries in 1966. He researched into the problems of cardiovascular complications in paraplegics and helped devise the Stoke Mandeville classification of Spinal Paralysis, now accepted all over the medical world.

Ruth Peachment & Kirsten Hart    

Ruth is an Occupational Therapy Clinical Specialist and Kirsten is a is a Clinical Specialist Physiotherapist at the Centre. Their roles include introducing new innovations and identifying new areas of research. They work alongside designers and engineers, specialising in the design and manufacture of bespoke items for adults and children with disabilities.

Professor Paul Kennedy

Paul was a pioneering clinical psychologist. He was the leading authority on coping and adjustment in spinal cord injury. He developed the Stoke Mandeville Spinal Needs Assessment Checklist and Goal Planning Programme which has been adopted by spinal centres in the UK and overseas.”

Showcase 3

Object captions:

  1. Urinary Tract Complications after Spinal Cord Injuries Booklet, 1972 - research like this at the National Spinal Injuries Centre (NSIC) greatly reduced the risk of infection.
  2. Possum Users Association Concert Brochure - this event was a fundraiser to help pay for equipment for patients. Possum - Patient Operated Selector Mechanism, was invented at the NSIC and allowed tetraplegic patients to use their mouths and breath to operate household and work equipment.
  3. 'Science and Victory - The contributions of the Refugees' Pamphlet - the work of Professor Sir Ludwig Guttmann is featured in this pamphlet recognising his remarkable achievements in the care and treatment of those with spinal injuries.
  4. The Kipper Catheter - the Kipper, a pioneering catheter of its time, was developed at the NSIC. It reflects the research and innovation which is at the core of the Centre's work.
  5. Inhaler - an early inhaler, used at the NSIC, to assist with breathing.
  6. Cath Hand - this prototype developed at the NSIC aids people with limited hand use, not only in managing their catheter but also for picking up objects.
  7. Cue Support for Snooker - designed to enable people who are unable to use their hands to create a 'bridge' to play snooker.
  8. Prototype Crutch Handle - this prototype was developed at the NSIC, looking for a more comfortable grip on crutches.
  9. Kidney Tins - early dishes used in care at the NSIC.
  10. '5 Strawberries' Straw Support - developed at the NSIC, and now in production, this device stops the straw from rolling around the cup when a person can't use their hands to stabilise it.
  11. Cup Handle - developed at the NSIC to aid drinking and is now in production.