The Spinal Unit at the Royal North Shore Hospital was officially opened in 1958. Its driving forces were physiotherapist Jan Benn and the Director Dr John Grant, another significant figure in disability sport at an Australian and international level.
Dr Grant visited Stoke Mandeville as part of an international study tour in 1957 and was impressed and motivated by Ludwig Guttmann’s approach to managing spinal cord injuries. While he was there, he met Australian Jan Benn and convinced her to come to Royal North Shore Hospital to replicate the Stoke Mandeville experience. Benn was an advocate of sporting activities for spinal cord injury patients and so the RNSH joined Mt Wilga, Shenton Park in Perth and – soon – Prince Henry Hospital (also in Sydney) as centres for sport for people with spinal injuries.