Paving the way for the services of today

I remember my mum saying to Sir Ludwig, "Why do you focus so much on her arms when we want her to walk?"

Jane Blackburn, patient

Panel about rehabilitation at the NSIC Paralympic Heritage exhibition

When Professor Sir Ludwig Guttmann began the Spinal Injuries Centre his regime was not just medical and surgical but also about rehabilitation, including psychotherapy, physiotherapy and occupational therapy. His main aim was to get patients back into life outside the wards.  ‘I will make tax-payers of you’.

Before Dr Guttmann spinal injury patients had been seen as incurable. An important part of his treatment was to ensure patients maintained hope of making progress. They were encouraged to be active, both physically and socially, alongside their medical rehabilitation.

What made the Centre truly distinctive was the introduction by Dr Guttmann of sport as a means of rehabilitation. He recognised its value in encouraging fitness, introducing competition and providing pleasure.  With the support of the Stoke Mandeville staff, Dr Guttmann’s belief in the value of sport laid the foundations for the modern Paralympic Games.

Alongside sport the Centre encouraged patients to engage in a range of activities enabling people to develop both work and creative skills providing psychological as well as physical benefits.

Showcase 2

Object captions:

  1. Dot Tussler's Classifier Jacket, Sydney Paralympics, 2000 - Dot Tussler started as a Physiotherapist at the National Spinal Injuries Centre (NSIC) in 1982. She has been a Classifier at the Paralympic Games.
  2. Wilma Anic's Archery Case with bow - Wilma Anic was treated at the NSIC. She later became a physiotherapist and a Paralympic Archery Champion.
  3. Gift for Volunteering, Stoke Mandeville Games, 1967 - gifted to Sarah Butler, a local volunteer for helping at the Games.
  4. Origami Dolls and Programme, Tokyo Paralympics, 1964 - these paper dolls were a present to competitors: A symbol of friendship and hope.
  5. Hazel Randall's Medals, Toronto Paralympics, 1976 - Hazel won Gold for discus and Silvers for shotput and the pentathalon.
  6. Lady Susan Masham's Bronze and Silver Medals, Rome Paralympics, 1960 - Lady Masham was one of Britain's first successful Paralympians winning three medals for swimming in 1960.
  7. James Gibson's Silver Medal for Table Tennis, Tokyo Paralympics, 1964 - James was a patient at the NSIC in 1955, coming from Ireland. As well as an athlete, he was in a band, The Paratones, who did fundraising events.
  8. Hugh Stewart Mackenzie's Bronze Medal, Tokyo Paralympics, 1964, and his invitation to Downing Street Celebrations - Hugh, and Paul Lyall, won this Bronze medal in Table tennis Men's Doubles.
  9.  Stoke Mandeville Games Medal for Snooker, 1965 - like many early medals, this one was made by patients of the NSIC.
  10. Maureen Manning's Silver Medal for Shot Putt, Stoke Mandeville Games, 1960 - Maureen, a patient at the NSIC in the 1950s, was born with Spinal Bifida.
  11. Mick Langley's Competitiors Bag, Seoul Paralympics, 1988 - local man, Mick Langley, was a patient here in 1974. He got a Gold in Snooker at the Seoul Paralmypics 1988.