Ludwig Guttman's regime was not merely medical and surgical but also rehabilitative. The Physiotherapy department rather than Occupational Therapy were responsible for all the sports rehabilitation which was quite unusual at the time.

Video still of Dot Tussler, Physiotherapist at Stoke Mandeville

A memoir by Physiotherapist Dot Tussler

Dot Tussler started at Stoke Mandeville in 1982 and is now one of the longest-serving physiotherapists working at the hospital. Read more

Jane Blackburn, Paralympian

An interview with patient Jane Blackburn

"Patient Jane Blackburn describes the Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy that took place at Stoke Mandeville in the 1960s." Read more

Patient learning to walk using the support of wooden beams

George Brogan on using crutches

“They put full callipers on me and then I had to lift myself up on to these bars, just like the lad in the photo; once you mastered that you were given crutches, and then the fun began." Read more

Patient learning to walk using the support of wooden beams

Guttman's rehabilitative regime

Guttman's new regime would not merely be medical and surgical; it would also be rehabilitative. As he himself said, the main aim was to get patients back into life outside the wards. Read more

Dr. Guttmann on the wards at Stoke Mandeville at Christmas.

Happier times on the wards

In the early years at Stoke Mandeville the moment that a patient was first able to sit up in a wheelchair was recognised as a key milestone. It was an event to be celebrated with a party. Read more

Experimenting with wheelchair polo in the 1940s

Memories of how sport started at Stoke Mandeville

"They got in wheelchairs, and they had shortened sticks, and a disk for the puck, and they went up and down an empty ward hitting this puck. It was played against the physiotherapists, and later against the local football clubs." Read more

A wheelchair patient having physiotherapy

Patients and their Physiotherapists

“The relationship you had with your physio was very special. You saw them twice a day; and they were so much better at explaining things." Read more

A patient making a basket in occupational therapy

Patients and Therapists on Occupational Therapy

"I think Guttmann’s model at Stoke Mandeville where the physiotherapy department – rather than the OT – was responsible for all the sports rehabilitation was quite unusual at the time." Read more

Physiotherapy in the pool at Stoke Mandeville in 1956

Sport as rehabilitation

What made the spinal injuries unit at Stoke Mandeville truly distinctive was the introduction by Guttmann of sport as a means of rehabilitation. Read more

Gym at Stoke Mandeville in 1970

The gym used for Physiotherapy

"Today individual Physios assess the risks of ‘therapeutic handling’ but many staff at Stoke Mandeville still do far more manual handling of patients than in other branches of physiotherapy.” Read more

Ludwig Guttmann and Lady Hamilton Smith at the opening of the Rehabilitation Hostel at Stoke Mandeville in 1970

The Halfway House

"I remember there was one tetraplegic patient there who was writing a book; and in his room there was this elaborate piece of equipment that allowed him to type using his mouth as he had no movement below his neck." Read more