A wheelchair patient having physiotherapy

A patient learning how to get out of his wheelchair through physiotherapy (photo A). ©Dot Tussler

Physiotherapist helping patients develop more muscles and strength in their legs

Physiotherapy helping patients develop more muscles and strength in their legs (photo B). ©Dot Tussler

Patient Margaret Maughan

“The relationship you had with your physiotherapist was very special. You saw them twice a day; and they were so much better at explaining things. Some really close relationships developed and a number of patients married their physiotherapists. I remember my very first outing was to my physiotherapist's house; two or three of them shared a bungalow nearby in Stoke Mandeville and they took us there.”

It was the first time I learnt how to transfer from a wheelchair to a sofa. They really helped us with practical things like that.

Patient Rainer Kuschall

"Guttmann said to me, ‘Rainer, I am not going to try and kid you about any miracle cures. The only thing I will be able to do for you is to get you so that instead of lying on your back you can sit in a wheelchair.’ And that is the first thing I learnt to do. It was really hard; I felt like I wanted to die, I hadn’t sat up for so long that all the blood ran out of my arms and went into my feet. I had this fantastic physiotherapist, Margaret Roberts, “Robby”, and she made me do this stuff and it was hard and so painful that I wanted to kill her; in fact I tried to put my hands round her throat and strangle her. But she was laughing and smiling at me, so I said, ‘Why are you doing this, smiling?’”

My physio told me that it was the first time she had seen me try to do anything for myself, so it was good, progress.

Physiotherapist Ebba

This picture [photo B] Using gravity to stretch him out and deal with ‘contractures’. It is the correction of spinal deformities of someone who has spent too long in a chair and has got shortened muscles. We learnt from this condition (spinal deformities) to use more preventative treatments – making a patient sleep on their stomach or by the use of standing regimes. People used to use standing frames in their own home. It was a way of dealing with spasticity. It’s a nice image because it sums up the changes in the history of physiotherapy.

Sally Haynes: patient

He [photo B] is having his hips straightened; he probably got like that from spending too long sitting in a chair. My problem was the reverse. I was suffering from curvature of the spine and had to lie on sand beds to correct the curve. It was dreadfully, dreadfully painful!

Physiotherapist Dot Tussler

I came to work at Stoke Mandeville as a physiotherapist in May 1982. I wanted the experience of working in spinal cord injury rehabilitation which appealed to me as an area of work where my input would make a difference. I arrived as a rather nervous and shy person but soon integrated to the all encompassing and demanding role that each physiotherapist had with their patient caseload. I immediately became interested in the use of sport within rehabilitation.