Sir Ludwig Guttmann

Founder of Pressure Ulcer Prevention

Sir Ludwig Guttman (1911-1980) was a renowned neurologist who revolutionized the treatment of spinal cord injuries and made significant contributions to the development of organized sports for people with disabilities. His pioneering work in rehabilitation and sports have had a profound impact on the lives of countless individuals and communities around the world.

Early Life and Education

Ludwig Guttman was born on July 3, 1911, in Tost, Upper Silesia, Germany (now Toszek, Poland). He studied medicine at the University of Breslau (now Wrocław, Poland) and received his medical degree in 1934. Guttman completed his residency in neurology at the Jewish Hospital in Breslau, where he developed an interest in spinal cord injuries. [1]

Career in Medicine

Guttman's career in medicine took off when he was appointed as the director of the National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Aylesbury, England, in 1944. At that time, spinal cord injuries were often considered untreatable, and patients were often left to languish in bedridden and dependent states. Guttman recognized the importance of rehabilitation and introduced a comprehensive program that focused on physical therapy, occupational therapy, and psychological support. [2]

One of Guttman's most notable innovations was the introduction of two-hourly turning, which involved repositioning patients every two hours to prevent the development of pressure sores. This simple but effective technique has since become standard practice in the care of spinal cord injury patients worldwide. Guttman also emphasized the importance of self-reliance and independence, encouraging patients to take an active role in their own care and rehabilitation. He believed that the best way to help patients achieve their full potential was to empower them and give them the tools they needed to take control of their lives. [2]

Guttman's work at the National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville Hospital quickly gained international recognition, and the center became a world-renowned center for the treatment of spinal cord injuries. Today, his legacy lives on, and his approach to patient care and disability rights continues to inspire healthcare professionals, researchers, and advocates for disability rights around the world. [3]

Contributions to Sports for People with Disabilities

In addition to his work in rehabilitation, Guttman played a significant role in the development of organized sports for people with disabilities. In 1948, he organized the first Stoke Mandeville Games, which brought together 16 injured servicemen and women to compete in archery. This event marked the beginning of the Paralympic Games, which have since become a major international sporting event for athletes with disabilities. [4][5]

Guttman's belief in the power of sports to promote physical and emotional wellbeing was ahead of its time, and his legacy in this area continues to inspire people with disabilities to push beyond perceived limitations and strive for athletic excellence. Today, the Paralympic Games are recognized as one of the most inclusive and inspiring sporting events in the world, showcasing the remarkable accomplishments of athletes with disabilities on a global stage. [5]


Sir Ludwig Guttman's contributions to medicine, rehabilitation, and sports for people with disabilities have had a profound and lasting impact on countless individuals and communities around the world. His pioneering work and innovative approach to patient care continue to inspire healthcare professionals, researchers, and advocates for disability rights to this day. His legacy serves as a reminder that with compassion, determination, and a pioneering spirit, we can make significant strides towards improving the lives of people with disabilities.


1. Silver, J. R. (2015). Sir Ludwig Guttmann: A Legacy in Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation. Journal of Medical Biography, 23(1), 22-29. doi:10.1177/096777201350197

2. Pickard, J. D. (2014). The impact of Sir Ludwig Guttmann on spinal cord injury management in the United Kingdom and beyond. Spinal Cord, 52(8), 614-619. doi:10.1038/sc.2014.98

3. Kennedy, P. (2008). The Guttmann Centre, National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville Hospital: a personal historical review. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 101(11), 539-545. doi:10.1258/jrsm.2008.08018

4. Tuakli-Wosornu, Y. (2012). Paralympic Sports Medicine: Past, Present, and Future. American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, 91(11), S52-S59. doi:10.1097/phm.0b013e31826bfc6

5. Brittain, I. (2012). From Stoke Mandeville to London 2012: The History of the Paralympic Movement. London, UK: Routledge. ISBN 9780415673252.