Institut Guttmann is the result of the tenacity and effort of a man with a major physical disability, Mr. Guillermo González Gilbey (1926-1987). After a traffic accident in 1958, Mr. González Gilbey became tetraplegic. He experienced first hand the dreadful consequences of the lack of rehabilitation facilities for patients with spinal cord injury in Spain.
To receive appropriate medical care and rehabilitation, Mr. González Gilbey had to be referred to England. In less than a year, the new technologies developed by Dr. Guttmann enabled him to attain the degree of rehabilitation required to be an enterprising man again, despite his major physical limitations and confinement to a wheelchair. On his return to Barcelona, he proposed setting up a specialized hospital to give his fellow paraplegics and tetraplegics the health care and rehabilitation treatment that he had received abroad.
His enthusiasm for the project and his firm commitment to it caused to open the first hospital in Spain dedicated to the treatment and comprehensive rehabilitation of people with by spinal cord injuries. This first hospital was opened on 27 November, 1965 and was housed in the old “Hospital de la Magdalena”, in Sagrera neighbourhood of Barcelona. These hospital buildings had previously been in disuse. They were therefore renovated for their new use.
The new hospital was called INSTITUT GUTTMANN in honour of Sir Ludwig Guttmann. In the past, spinal injuries had a bleak prognosis. After the end of the Second World War, Sir Ludwig Guttmann had established some innovative bases for treating and rehabilitating from such injuries.
Dr. Miquel Sarrias Domingo, (1930-2002), was employed to lead Institut Guttmann’s therapeutic team. He was an orthopaedic surgeon, trained in Oxford under the tutelage of Professor Josep Trueta. He was later to become one of Dr. Guttmann’s most outstanding followers. Dr. Sarrias was Institut Guttmann’s director from 1965 until he retired in 2000. His scientific and personal contribution was essential to the hospital’s development and to the establishment of its own institutional culture, which is based on accuracy in health care and deep humanism.
In addition to Dr. Sarrias, the initial health care team included a nurse and a physiotherapist, both trained in new rehabilitation techniques at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital itself. These three practitioners were the core from which the extensive team making up the hospital’s current staff grew. The team covers all health care and complementary aspects of neurorehabilitation.
The hospital’s teaching and research tradition led to the foundation of Institut Universitari de Neurorehabilitació Guttmann in 1999. Attached to Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona (UAB), its aims are to develop the main teaching and research aspects of neurorehabilitation and technologies applied to disability and to promote the creation and transfer of knowledge into clinical practice.
On 11 May, 2002, a modern and comfortable building of over 17.000 m2, was opened in Badalona. It was built in response to a growing and increasingly complex demand, to adapt to current society’s new technologies and to the need for greater comfort. The building was designed and specially equipped for its purpose. It resulted from cooperating with Foundation Institut Guttmann, the Regional Government of Catalonia, Foundation ONCE, Badalona City Council and "Friends of the Institut Guttmann", which contributed financially to make this new building possible.
Over the years, Institut Guttmann has treated more than 11,000 people with severe disabilities caused by a diseased central nervous system (children, young people and adults). Most patients are from Catalonia, although 20% of inpatients come from other regions in Spain. A small percentage also come from abroad.
Sir LUDWIG GUTTMANN
In 1944, at the suggestion of the English government, Sir Ludwig Guttmann set up the first organization in the world for the rehabilitation of patients with spinal cord injuries in Stoke Mandeville, near London. His scientific contribution was so crucial to changing the prognosis of these patients that medicine distinguishes in spinal cord injuries before and after the hospital’s foundation.
In addition to establishing techniques and procedures for treating people with spinal cord injury, Sir Ludwig Guttmann fully incorporated sports into the rehabilitation process. In 1952, he was the driving force behind the worldwide “Paralympics” sporting movement.
Sir LUDWIG GUTTMANN,
A Jewish German neurosurgeon emigrated to England in 1939.
"To make hopeless patients
into tax payers"