The WheelPower Inter Spinal Unit Games are held annually at Stoke Mandeville Stadium and form an essential part of many spinal patients’ rehabilitation.
Over 100 patients and 60 support staff from fourteen Spinal Injury Centres and Specialist Units across the United Kingdom come together for a week of sport and activity at the Birthplace of the Paralympic Movement.
Patients receive coaching and demonstrations from current leading wheelchair sports athletes and coaches in a variety of sports which include archery, rugby, athletics, fencing, basketball, powerlifting, boccia, swimming, shooting and tennis.
During the event they experience first-hand what can be achieved, both in terms of sport and an independent lifestyle and discover the tremendous benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle.
The Games are sometimes a participant’s first experience outside a hospital environment since their injury, and provide a pathway to finding out the tremendous benefits that sport and physical activity can have on people’s lives.
"The Inter Spinal Unit Games have really inspired me! I have a new ambition, and can see how staying active and healthy through accessible sports can give me that drive that I need to get out of the house and meet new people." Ben, Southport
"Get here, 100 per cent, don’t miss it! It is a great opportunity to get into sports, there is so many to try. I couldn’t recommend it highly enough to anyone, I think it’s a fantastic event and I would definitely encourage everyone to come to try it out." Chris, Stanmore
Thursday 7 December – Buckinghamshire (Stoke Mandeville Stadium)
Wednesday 31 January – Yorkshire (Sheffield)
February – Wiltshire (Tidworth)
March – Merseyside (Venue TBC)
by Martin McElhatton OBE – Chief Executive of WheelPower
When I first started at WheelPower in 1988 I recall that Jean Stone MBE, the Sports Administrator for the charity and Harry Metcalfe the remedial gymnast at National Spinal Injuries Centre, Stoke Mandeville came up with the concept of organising a competition between spinal units, very much linked to the origins of the Paralympic Movement and the first Stoke Mandeville Games held in July 1948.
The new Inter Spinal Unit Games were supported by the Marchday Charitable Fund and brought together patients and staff from Spinal Units around the United Kingdom with an invitation also extended to the Spinal Unit in Dublin, Ireland. Each team of up to eight participants had the chance to try a range of sports and enter in competitions to win the coveted Marchday Shield for the winning Unit.
Over the years the Games have become a regular feature in WheelPower’s calendar and whilst the emphasis is on participation, raising awareness of what sports are available for people with Spinal Cord Injuries and a great social event, there have also been a number of participants who have gone on to compete in national tournaments and several who have become Paralympians.
2023 will be the 34th edition of the Inter Spinal Unit Games and with an estimated 1,500 paralysed each year they still hold an important role in the rehabilitation of people with a spinal cord injury. The Games have helped thousands of people during the past 34 years and the thrill of finding something as positive as sport can be for newly paralysed people is what moves WheelPower to continue to provide this life transforming event for many years to come.
The Jean Stone trophy will be awarded to the spinal unit with the highest number of points accumulated from taster sessions and competitions.
Three points will be awarded to spinal units for each sport they experience during the week. The majority of these sports will be available as taster sessions throughout the event. Points will be awarded for the top three placed individuals within each competition as follows:
First place = 10 points
Second place = 6 points
Third place = 4 points
The 2022 winners were the Duke of Cornwall Spinal Treatment Centre from Salisbury, Wiltshire.
1989 Stoke Mandeville
1990 Lodge Moor / Musgrave Park
1992 Stoke Mandeville
1996 Stoke Mandeville
1998 Stoke Mandeville
1999 Stoke Mandeville
2003 Stoke Mandeville
2007 Stoke Mandeville
2010 Stoke Mandeville
2016 Stoke Mandeville
There will be over 20 sports to try at the 2023 Inter Spinal Unit Games!