John Young

John Young


John Young, inspired by a visit to Sir Ludwig Guttmann at Stoke-Mandeville in 1962, embraced Guttmann’s model of creating a system of care from “injury to grave”. As he applied this concept of comprehensive rehabilitation to spinal cord injury (SCI) at Craig Hospital, he envisioned a program in the future that would address the problem of the fragmented care for SCI in the Western Hemisphere. In 1970 he was afforded the opportunity to begin the greatest challenge of his career: establish a model SCI Center at Phoenix, AZ., which illustrated a team concept, physician led, continuity of life-time care at lower costs and better outcomes. His demonstration grant was so successful that after 3 years 6 centers were funded which eventually grew to 14 centers in 2018, which has collected data prospectively on course of recovery, complications, service delivery and costs. From 1975 to 2017 over 32,000 cases have been collected at the National Statistical Center (

In addition, Young’s leadership together with members of ASIA and the support of ISCoS, the International Standards for the Classification of Spinal Cord Injury were established. This classification system serves as the current gold standard for research studies in recovery and regeneration of SCI.


Ditunno JF, Jr., Donovan WH and Oleson CV. History of Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Medicine. In: Kirshblum S and Lin VW, (eds.). Spinal Cord Medicine. Third ed. New York, New York: Demos Medical Publishing 2019.

 This profile of John Young was written by John Ditunno

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