Professor Sir Ludwig Guttmann

National Paralympic Heritage Centre

Billie the Bulb Billie the Bulb
The Paralympic's is truly inspiring! I wish they'd use a lightbulb instead of a flame
Professor Sir Ludwig Guttmann

The National Paralympic Heritage Trust (NPHT) was established in July 2015 to ‘enlighten and inspire future generations by celebrating, cherishing and bringing the Paralympic Heritage and its stories of human endeavour to life’.

The Paralympic Movement is uniquely British story. It shows how disability sport developed and captures the prowess, courage and endeavour of hundreds of individuals beginning with Professor Sir Ludwig Guttmann, a German Jewish refugee working in Stoke Mandeville from 1943.

Guttmann’s holistic approach to treating spinal injury patients kept them alive, fit and active. It shows how one man can literally ‘change the world’, as his medical practice became famous across the globe.

The athletes provide inspiring role models for all people and especially for the ten million disabled people in the UK.

The UK has continued to play a key leadership role in the development of the Paralympic Movement, reflected in phenomenal successes since London 2012, in Sochi, Rio and Pyeongchang.

Important dates in history for Professor Sir Ludwig Guttmann

Professor Sir Ludwig Guttmann and his family ordered to leave Germany under the Nazi regime. Arrived in Oxford.
Professor Sir Ludwig Guttmann asked to take charge of the Spinal Injuries Unit at Stoke Mandeville.
The first competitive games were the Stoke Mandeville Games introduced by Professor Guttmann.
The first international Stoke Mandeville Games.
following fundraising in order to cover the costs of the building works, a new sports centre was opened by the Queen on the Stoke Mandeville Hospital grounds (later renamed ‘Ludwig Guttmann Sports Centre for the Disabled’ after his death)
Sir Ludwig Guttmann died of heart failure following a heart attack some months before.

Did you know?

  • Professor Sir Ludwig Guttman was born in Tost, Upper Silesia, Germany (which is now Toszek in Poland) on 3 July 1899 and raised in the Jewish faith.
  • He revolutionised the treatment of patients with paraplegia. One of the techniques he used was introducing sport as a way of rehabilitation.
  • When Professor Sir Ludwig Guttmann started work at the Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville, life expectancy for paraplegics was only two years from the time of injury.  Guttmann refused to accept that a spinal injury was a death sentence, and his advancements in the treatment of paraplegia revolutionised the field.
  • Professor Sir Ludwig Guttmann is known as the founding father of the Paralympic movement and was affectionately called ‘Poppa’ by his patients/
  • His work continues through the current disabled sports organisations and through the National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville, which continues to be a world leader in the treatment of spinal injuries.

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