JR Silver



At the outset of the Second World War, spinal units were established in the UK, but they were little more than hospitals where patients with spinal injuries were received. The treatment was deplorable, with patients typically suffering from pressure sores and renal sepsis. In the south of England, a spinal unit was not established until the appointment in 1944 of Ludwig Guttmann, who was trained in rehabilitation, neurology, neurosurgery, psychiatry and research. Guttmann devoted himself single-handedly to the care of his patients, turning and catheterising them himself. Within six months, he demonstrated that he could cure their sores and discharge them to a meaningful life. Recognition followed immediately, and doctors came from other units to learn Guttmann’s methods and set up rehabilitation centres for spinal patients in the UK.

Keywords Ludwig Guttmann, spinal injuries, spinal units, Stoke Mandeville Hospital

Declaration of Interests No conflict of interests declared.