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The Fundació Institut Guttmann was established in 1962 by Guillermo González Gilbey together with Juan Antonio Andreu Bufill and Luís Gil de Biedma Alba.

Starting its activity as a hospital for people with spinal cord injury, the foundation evolved to become a centre of excellence in care and knowledge in the field of neuroscience in general and neurorehabilitation in particular.

The institution has been faithful to its initial objective throughout its history: to provide the best possible comprehensive rehabilitation to people affected by spinal cord injury, acquired brain injury or other neurological disabilities, while fighting for the rights of people with disabilities and their full social equality.



The idea

At the age of 32, Guillermo González Gilbey (1926-1987) was in a traffic accident that left him tetraplegic. After personally experiencing the lack of adequate medical and rehabilitative care in Spain, Guillermo travelled to England to receive treatment.

There, thanks to the techniques developed by Dr. Ludwig Guttmann, he proved that it was possible to achieve the degree of rehabilitation required to regain an active and successful life despite severe physical limitations. Upon returning to Barcelona, along with his friends he was the driving force behind the creation of a specialised hospital where other people with spinal cord injury could receive the same specialised care that he had received abroad.

Thanks to his efforts, Spain’s first hospital dedicated to the treatment and rehabilitation of people affected by spinal cord injury opened in Barcelona on 27th November 1965. Located in the La Sagrera neighbourhood, the new hospital was named the Institut Guttmann after Guillermo’s physician in England, Dr. Guttmann.


The inspiration

Sir Ludwig Guttmann (1899-1980) was a renowned German physician and surgeon who during the Second World War and in Stoke Mandeville, England, developed his method for the treatment of the person with spinal cord injury, from the initial stages to to their full social reintegration, with the aim of their patients being considered useful and respected members of society again despite their high degree of disability.

The medical contribution of Dr. Guttmann was decisive in changing the prognosis of these people. In addition, he incorporated sports activity into the rehabilitation process, appreciating it as therapy for its ability to improve functional autonomy, as well as for its psychological and socialization value. In 1952 Dr. Guttmann was the driving force behind the current Paralympic Games.


First steps

Dr. Miquel Sarrias Domingo (1930-2002), a surgeon trained in Oxford and an apprentice of Dr. Guttmann, became director of the Institut Guttmann and remained there until he retired in 2000. He made an essential contribution to the establishment of our unique institutional culture, based on the rigorous care and compassion that is still alive in the hospital and in all its staff, and inspiring a unique care model.

Consolidation of a project

In the nineties, under the Presidency of Joan Echevarría Puig (1991-2009), an ambitious process of changes began thanks to the commitment and effort of a large group of young professionals, led at that time by Dr. Josep M. Ramírez Ribas, managing director of the foundation since 1990, the organization was pushed  to the levels of excellence and international recognition it enjoys today.

In 1999, the University Institute of Neurorehabilitation attached to the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona was established, from where a fruitful research and teaching work is carried out.

In 2002, thanks to the support of the Generalitat de Catalunya and the ONCE Foundation, all activity was moved to the current hospital in the city of Badalona, next to the Germans Trias i Pujol University Hospital. With more than 17,000 m², modern facilities and a large team of professionals, it becomes the international reference hospital it is today.

In 2005 we obtained the Joint Commission International accreditation and since 2013 we have been National Reference Center for comprehensive care for complex spinal cord injury in Spain -CSUR-.

In 2019, the "Guttmann Barcelona" center was inaugurated n the grounds of the old hospital in the La Sagrera neighbourhood. This is a space which is home to the Brain Health and Neurorehabilitation Institute from where the organisation can now treat new neurological pathologies, and to the adapted serviced apartments Guttmann Barcelona Life which promote independent living for people with disabilities.


Looking at the future

From March 2022, the executive direction of the Foundation is exercised by two Co-Directors, Mrs. Montse Caldés and Dr. Montserrat Bernabeu, the first case of female co-management in our country, with which our organization maintains a firm gaze towards the future with the commitment to remain an organization of excellence, committed to people with disabilities and health in general , promoter of research and teaching in this neuroscientific field and promoter of social innovation to achieve, among all, a fairer, more inclusive and fraternal society.


Finally, we quote below the people who have presided over the Foundation since its establishment:
  • Guillermo González Gilbey: January 1962 to July 1987
  • Luis Gil de Biedma Alba: July 1987 to March 1990
  • Salvador Sanz de Acedo Esparza: March 1990 to November 1991
  • Joan Echevarría Puig: November 1991 to December 2009
  • Francesc Homs Ferret: December 2009 to June 2021
  • Antoni Esteve Cruella: From June 2021

Some important



1965 Creation of the first hospital in Spain for people with spinal cord injury and one of the first in Europe.
1967 Creation of the Institut Guttmann Sports Club, Spain’s first club for adapted sports.
1969 Birth of the first baby in Spain to a tetraplegic mother.
1983 Creation of the Clinical Neuropsychology unit.
1984 1st number of Sobre Ruedas magazine.
1986 Creation of Spain's first Sexuality and Assisted Fertility Unit for people with disabilities.
1988 Children Rehabilitation Unit and Multiple Sclerosis Unit start-up.
1989 Introduction of Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) to Spain / 1st edition of the Technical Symposia. 
1990 1st number of Blocs Collection / Placement ofthe first SARS / Neuropathic pain Unit creation. 

The Institut Guttmann is designated a Paralympic Hospital.

1995 Founders of the European Institute for Design and Disability (EIDD).
1996 Creation of the “Santi Beso Arnalot” Neurorehabilitation Documentation Centre.
1997 Creation of the Acquired Brain Damage Unit. 
1999 Constitution of the Guttmann University Institute of Neurorehabilitation affiliated to the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.
2000 Launch of the Socio-Clinical Assessment and Support Team Specialising in Neurorehabilitation (EASE).

Inauguration of the new Neurorehabilitation Hospital in Badalona.

2004 Creation of the “Social and Participation Council of the Institut Guttmann”, a pioneering experience in Spain.
2005 Accreditation by Joint Commission International.
2007 Creation of the “Post-Polio Patient Care Programme” and the first implants in Spain of diaphragmatic stimulators for tetraplegic patients dependent on mechanical ventilation.
2008 Recognition as a centre of excellence in Neurorehabilitation by the Government of Andorra.
2011 Obtained ISO-14001 environmental accreditation.
2013 Accredited as a CSUR National Centre of Reference in Comprehensive Care for Patients with Complex Spinal Injury.
2014 Guttmann, NeuroPersonalTrainer® is certified as a medical device by the Spanish Agency of Medicinal Products and Medical Devices.

Obtained SR-10 accreditation in matters of Corporate Social Responsibility.

2019 Inauguration of the new Guttmann Barcelona centre with the opening of the “Brain Health and Neuorehabilitation Institute” and the “Guttmann Barcelona Life” adapted apartments.
Gutmann Barcelona - Façana
2020 Launch of the “Post-Covid Rehabilitation Programme”.
2021 Nerve transposition surgery for the functional improvement of the hand of the quadriplegic patient.
2022 Dr. Montse Bernabeu and Mrs. Montse Caldés assume the direction of the Institut Guttmann, the first organization in the Catalan health sector with a management model based on a co-direction led by two women.
2022 Bariatric surgery in patients with spinal cord injuries and morbid obesity, in collaboration with the Germans Trias University Hospital


Some of the
distinctions received

2023 Silver Cross of the Order of Merit of the Civil Guard for the promotion and defense of the rights of people with disabilities and with serious spinal cord and neurological injuries, developing, together with specialized hospital and scientific activities, numerous social activities.
2016 FAD Award (Avedis Donabedian Foundation) for the Best Information on Social Responsibility Activities.
2015 Medal of Honour, in the gold category, awarded by the Parlament de Catalunya on the occasion of the Institut Guttmann’s 50th anniversary.
2015 Francesc Macià Plaque, awarded by the Government of the Generalitat de Catalunya.
2014 1st Prize in Road Safety at the 6th European Traffic Congress for the “GAME OVER” programme, in recognition of the contribution of the Institut Guttmann in raising awareness of and preventing traffic accidents.
2012 The City Council of Badalona grants the Institut Guttmann the “VENUS”, the city’s highest recognition, on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the inauguration of the new hospital in the municipality.
2011 Gold Medal for Civic Merit, awarded to the Institut Guttmann by Barcelona City Council in recognition of its work over the years.
2009 Medal of merit for road safety, in the gold category with blue ribbon, awarded to the Institut Guttmann by the Council of Ministers for its continuous and active commitment to both preventing traffic accidents and improving conditions for the social reintegration of people with disabilities.
2008 Award from the National Federation of Paraplegics and the Severely Disabled (ASPAYM) for the contribution and advances made in the treatment of spinal cord injury and in recognition of the scientific and clinical research work carried out by the Institut Guttmann.
2007 Reina Sofía Award for Rehabilitation and Integration, awarded by the Royal Board on Disability, attached to the Spanish Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.
2007 Gold Medal from the Spanish Red Cross, for the activity carried out by the Institut Guttmann in favour of the most disadvantaged people and groups.
2006 Plaque of Honour to the Merit of the Civil Guard, awarded to the Institut Guttmann by Barcelona City Council in recognition of its work.
2005 Values, Health and Society Award, awarded by the “Spanish Patient Forum” for the initiative of creating the Institut Guttmann’s Social and Participation Council and putting it into operation.
2005 CERMI Award for the work done to promote the integration of people with disabilities.
2004 ASPAYM Award for comprehensive health and rehabilitation work for people with spinal cord injury.
2001 Josep Trueta Plaque for Health Merit, awarded by the Generalitat de Catalunya.
1998 ASPID Award from the Lleida Association of Paraplegics and the Physically Disabled.
1995 Creu de Sant Jordi, awarded by the Generalitat de Catalunya.