Tom Scott discovers how bed cycles helped start the Paralympics – Series 1 Episode 4

January 14, 2020

Today I’m going to find out with curator Selina Hurley, how a bed and a bicycle led to the creation of the Paralympics. I recognised Stoke Mandeville from the Olympics, so I’m guessing I know what this is, but do you want to tell me? So basically what it is; it’s a bed cycle and it was developed at Stoke Mandeville Hospital by someone called Ludwig Guttmann who you can see his name just there. And he developed ideas that rehabilitation after an injury or particularly after war injuries should include physical and emotional [rehabilitation] and work. So it’s basically a bicycle turned on its side? Yes. So it’s made of lots of different bicycle parts. We have the handles here, so you would pedal with your hands here. Or you would pedal with your feet as well. There’s actually a little speedometer here so you can see how fast you are going. And you can set how long you would be going for. There’s also a gear so you can actually change the tension like you would on an exercise bike. There’s a lot of big, twisty, physical things on this. So what did this turn into over time? We know that this one was actually still used until 1994 at The Chaseley Trust, who donated it to the museum. There’s obviously lots of different physio kind of exercises now, and hydrotherapy as well, but you still have forms of exercise bikes that you use today. But you can just imagine what it would be like to lie down either on this bed, or have this rolled over your bed for your daily exercise, whether you wanted to do it or not. And Stoke Mandeville went on to start the Paralympics is that right? It did. So they used to hold an annual games at Stoke Mandeville which was developed by Ludwig Guttmann and his staff and the eighth version of that games turns into the first Paralympic Games. So, we have a great object that tells some really personal stories, but also has this much bigger link to the Paralympic movement.

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