The Spinal Unit at Stoke Mandeville Hospital was founded in February 1944 by Dr Ludwig Guttmann (later Sir Ludwig Guttmann). It was a Ministry of Pensions Hospital for the treatment of injured servicemen and ex-servicemen. In 1952 it became the National Spinal Injuries Centre, part of the British National Health Service.
In 1948 the National Stoke Mandeville Games were started and in 1952 the International Stoke Mandeville Games were founded. In 1955 the doctors from various countries who accompanied their teams to these Games, started to meet informally to discuss their clinical work and research. As these meetings became larger and more formal, the International Medical Society of Paraplegia was founded in 1961 with Sir Ludwig Guttmann as the President.
In the early years, the Annual Scientific Meetings were held at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, except in Olympic years when they were held in association with the Paralympics. The Annual Scientific Meetings are now held in many different countries and in addition there are Regional Meetings supported by the Society, throughout the world.