History of The Bradford Sling®

The Bradford City Stadium Fire

Please be aware that the video below may contain images distressing to some people.

One of the worst disasters in recent British history, the Bradford City Stadium fire caused the loss of 56 lives and injured at least 265 people.The fire broke out the Bradford City Football Club home ground on the 11th of May 1985 during a game with Lincoln City.

The cause of the fire is believed to have been a combination of the windy conditions, the wooden construction of the grandstand and an accumulation of litter underneath it. Once the fire took hold it spread rapidly, the whole stand was burning within 4 minutes.

You can read more on the Bradford City Stadium Fire at the Wikipedia page.

Burns Injuries

The Bradford Royal Infirmary received almost all of the casualties. At the time, Professor David Sharp was the consultant for plastic surgery there. He was able to organise a stunning human effort, drawing 10% of all of the plastic surgeons in the UK to Bradford to help deal with the injuries before it was too late.

According to the BBC, 258 people required burns treatment through surgery within only a few days to prevent permanent disablement. A large number of the burns were to the hands, which meant they had to be elevated. It was in dealing with this huge demand for burns treatment that Professor Sharpe came up with the first iterations of The Bradford Sling®.

Soon after the patients were treated and discharged, Professor Sharpe helped to found the Bradford Burns Unit research facility at the University of Bradford. This is now considered to be a world leader in the treatment of burns injuries. It was here that The Bradford Sling® was refined through research and use in some of the most complex burns cases in the UK.

Commercial Development

It is hugely expensive to run a world leading research unit, so the University of Bradford developed The Bradford Sling® as a commercial venture to support the work of the burns unit. They registered the trademark to protect it’s originality and patented the design.

Capatex Ltd was asked to manufacture the device under licence because of their expertise in converting hook and loop products, and because of their medical devices arm, Capatex Medical. We  now manufacture and market The Bradford Sling® on behalf of the Bradford Burns Unit. We make a direct contribution to the work of the Bradford Burns Unit for every single sling that we sell.

For that reason we would prefer hospitals and individuals to buy an original Bradford Sling® rather than an imitation because we are able to give back to the Bradford Burns Unit to continue their work and recognise the contribution of those patients that unfortunately died or were injured for life by the Bradford City Stadium Fire.

Orthopaedic Injuries

As with the best inventions, the value of The Bradford Sling® was soon recognised by other people outside the immediate use case. In orthopaedic surgery it is important to elevate a limb to reduce swelling, and to immobilise the limb to prevent accidental damage.

The Bradford Sling® is perfectly adapted for these use cases. In fact, there are many applications where a healthcare professional or patient can benefit from a Bradford Sling®. It’s use is now so common that the term is becoming synonymous with any arm immobilisation and elevation sling product.