How Wheelchair Polo for Wounded Veterans Became the Paralympics

Paralyzed WWII soldiers and a visionary doctor gave rise to a global athletic movement

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One early morning in the English town of Aylesbury, a doctor in round spectacles and a white lab coat began his usual rounds at Stoke Mandeville Hospital. These were the dreary days immediately following World War II, and the hospital—which took in soldiers paralyzed from shrapnel injuries—was only a little less dreary. But that morning, the neurologist caught sight of something that would soon change history.

Gathered on the lawn, some of Dr. Ludwig Guttmann’s paraplegic patients were swatting a puck around with inverted walking canes.



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This story first appeared in the March 2023 issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.