Towards the end of the second world war Dr Ludwig Guttmann, a brisk refugee from Nazi Germany, arrives at Stoke Mandeville hospital in Buckinghamshire and is appalled to find the partially paralysed spinal patients heavily sedated and left to rot with bed sores. He immediately begins a new regime,disposing of old equipment and sedatives, bringing him into conflict with stern Sister Edwards and pompous consultant Cowan, as well as the patients. However the sister backs him when she realises he is treating her charges as people, not patients, talking to them and involving them in musical entertainments and sporting activity. Soon Whitehall are sending him all their spinal patients and, with visits to the pub and wheelchair sports taught by an army sergeant, he becomes the men's hero. With the war over Ludwig organizes national wheelchair sports competitions which will in turn lead to the establishment of the Paralympic games.