Skip to main content

Astley Ainslie SMART Centre

Identifier: LHB71

Scope and Contents

Adminstrative papers, correspondence, reports, photographs, publications, and research and development documents. To date, this collection has been partially catalogued. For more information, please contact the LHSA Archivist:


  • Creation: c1960-2009

Conditions Governing Access

Public access to these records is governed by UK data protection legislation, the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002, and the current Scottish Government Records Management: Health and Social Care Code of Practice (Scotland). Whilst some records may be accessed freely by researchers, the aforementioned legislation and guidelines mean that records conveying sensitive information on named individuals may be closed to the public for a set time. Where records relate to named deceased adults, they will be open 75 years after the latest date referenced, on the next 1 January. Case records of individuals below 18 years of age or adults not proven to be deceased will be open 100 years after the latest date recorded, on the next 1 January. Further information on legislation and guidelines covering medical records can be found here: LHSA encourages the use of these records for legitimate clinical, historical and genealogical research purposes, and records that are designated as closed can be consulted by legitimate researchers if certain conditions are met. Please contact the LHSA Archivist for more details regarding procedures on how you can apply for permission to view closed records. Telephone us on: 0131 650 3392 or email us at

Biographical / Historical

The Princess Margaret Rose Orthopaedic Hospital (PMR) opened in 1932, but it was first called the “Edinburgh Hospital for Crippled Children”. The hospital was founded for physically disabled children from South East Scotland, because large numbers of children across the area were suffering from disabilities due to tuberculosis or osteomyelitis complications. At the time, it was believed that the children could benefit from fresh air treatments, so the hospital location of Fairmilehead was chosen specifically because it was outside of the city.

In 1934, the Edinburgh Hospital for Crippled Children was renamed the “Princess Margaret Rose Hospital for Crippled Children”. The term “crippled” was removed from the name in 1937. 20 years later, it was again renamed to the “Princess Margaret Orthopaedic Hospital” because they had gradually began to treat more and more adult patients. As a result, it was the first hospital in Scotland that was dedicated to orthopaedic care, and kept this name until it was closed in 2002.

In response to the thalidomide tragedy of the late 1950s to early 1960s, the Powered Prosthetics Unit was set up in George Square, Edinburgh. It designed and provided upper limb prostheses for children who had been affected by the thalidomide drug. The Unit soon required more space to undertake their work, and so moved to premises at the Princess Margaret Rose Orthopaedic Hospital in 1965. In 1966, a “Self Care Unit” which provided disabled children and their mothers with accommodation while they were receiving treatment was built.

In 1969, the Unit was renamed the Bio-Engineering Centre. As well as their pioneering work in creating externally powered prostheses, they also began to create externally powered disability aids, such as feeding aids which helped disabled people eat independently. Dr David Simpson was the first ever Director of the Centre.

In 1988, the Lothian Health Board was given the control to oversee the Bioengineering Centre by the Scottish Home and Health Department. That same year, they created an umbrella organisation called Rehabilitation Engineering Services for the Lothian Area (RELSA).The Bioengineering Centre continued to be based in the PMR, but this restructuring linked the Bioengineering, Prosthetics and Mobility departments together under one organisation. It was later renamed Rehabilitation Engineering Services (RES) dropping the Lothian Area remit to represent the restructuring of NHS Trusts and reflect fact that they catered to the needs of disabled people throughout the UK and even internationally.

The Bioengineering Centre was moved from the PMR to the Eastern General Hospital in 2002, when the PMR closed. However, the Eastern General Hospital was also scheduled for closure. The Bioengineering Centre and the Prosthetics Services were the last services operating on the site before it closed its doors.

In December 2006, the Bioengineering and Prosthetics Services moved to the Southeast Mobility and Rehabilitation Technology (SMART) Centre, a new purpose-built rehabilitation medicine building at Astley Ainslie Hospital, where it has remained since.

The SMART Services integrated the services from RES and the Mobility Centre. It currently provides wheelchairs and special seating services; prosthetics and orthotics services; environmental controls services (the adaptation of light switches, doors and electrical equipment for disabled people; a custom design service (designing unique equipment depending on an individual patient's requirements) and gait analysis services. Patients based in Edinburgh can also be assessed for a blue badge independent mobility assessment at the SMART Centre, as well as undertake a Driving Assessment to learn how to drive again after being injured or discuss vehicle modifications to support their disability.


6-7 linear metres metres

Other Finding Aids

LHB35-Astley Ainslie Hospital LHB30- Princess Margaret Rose Orthopaedic Hospital LHB52- Edenhall

Astley Ainslie SMART Centre
In Progress
Marlena Nuernberger-Walle
Description rules
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Edition statement
First Draft 16.01.2020

Repository Details

Part of the Lothian Health Services Archive Repository

Centre for Research Collections
Edinburgh University Library
George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
+44 (0)131 650 3392