Intended for healthcare professionals


Dennis Searle Smith: pioneer in stroke management and rehabilitation

BMJ 2019; 364 doi: (Published 25 January 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;364:l398
  1. Amy Coopes
  1. North Albury, Australia
  1. coopesafp{at}

Dennis Searle Smith, a survivor of the Blitz who passed long childhood nights in air raid shelters and watched his father recover from injuries sustained by unexploded ordnance, devoted his life to rehabilitation medicine and was instrumental in the emerging specialism’s development.

Smith was born to Walter and Doris Smith in working class Coventry, the older of two boys. He showed academic aptitude from a young age, particularly in the sciences, where he revelled in the study of chemistry as a scholarship pupil at Bablake Grammar School.

During the second world war the school was relocated to a disused campus in Lincoln, and Smith’s younger brother, Tony, was evacuated to Solihull, where he lived away from the family for several years. Smith’s medical clerk father was hurt by unexploded ordnance while inspecting bomb sites in Coventry.

Formative experiences

It was his wartime experiences, surviving some of the worst air raids of the Blitz, whichsparked Smith’s lifelong interest in the determinants of disability and recovery from …

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