Josh’s Story

Joshua Clift’s life was changed forever after he was involved in two serious accidents in 2008.

The First Accident

On 12th July 2008, Joshua was playing rugby with his home team of Scone (NSW, Australia). During a tackle he broke his neck at the C4 and C5 level leaving him paralysed from the neck down.

Two major operations to fuse his neck later, Joshua was able to walk out of hospital with nearly complete function of his body. The only setback was limited arm movement that would improve over time. Josh was instructed to wear a neck brace for the next 12 weeks and to rest.

Back at Royal North Shore Hospital after 12 weeks, Dr Ruff removed Josh’s neck brace and with his arm movement improving dramatically his life was back on track.

The Second Accident

On 19th September 2008, less than two weeks after seeing Dr Ruff, Joshua’s life took another turn.

Driving back to his parent’s property, and just 2km from home, Joshua fell asleep behind the wheel. The car ran off the road and rolled numerous times. He was found unconscious, lying outside the vehicle with severe head and spinal injuries.

He has no memory of what happened. He will never know. He was extremely lucky to survive the crash and if he hadn’t been found he would have bleed to death in a short space of time.

What followed was 72 hours of uncertainty. Joshua was in a coma fighting to stay alive. The doctors were unsure if he would survive, let alone escape without brain damage.

Being the fighter he is, Joshua woke up three days later. He was scared, confused and couldn’t fell or move anything from his neck down.

In his second accident, Joshua had broken his neck at the C6 and C7 level, which had been fused by another plate. His lung capacity was functioning at only 20% and he had developed pneumonia as well as a series of blood clots in his lungs. He had 70 staples and dozen of stitches in his head. Amazingly, he hadn’t suffered any brain damage.

After careful assessment, Joshua was told he was an incomplete quadriplegic as his spinal cord was badly bruised, rather than severed, and was in a lot of shock. Josh was given a two year period to recover. It is unknown how much movement he will recover.

Rehabilitation in Sydney

The next six months were spent at Royal Rehabilitation Centre (RRC) at Ryde in Sydney (Australia).

Josh worked tirelessly on repairing his body with the RRC staff using their programs and equipment. He also consulted with outside specialists to receive extra treatment including acupuncture, physiotherapy, massage treatment and kinesiology.

RRC is the best available rehabilitation facility in NSW, however their facilities are limited due to lack of funding. With limited equipment and staff, the Centre wasn’t able to provide Joshua (and others like him) with the support to regain the maximum use of his lower extremities.

It was time to look elsewhere …

Off to Atlanta

One of the world’s best spinal rehabilitation centre’s is the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. It offers state-of-the-art technology and dedicated staff to maximise recovery and after a three month application and acceptance period Josh was accepted.

So on 12th April 2009, Josh left his home, his family, friends and support network and all things familiar in his life to face his challenges in Atlanta.

This big commitment was affirmed on arriving at the Shepherd Center when Joshua realised that the facilities and staff were better than he could ever have imagined

Josh immediately embarked on a four week day program which is an intensive five days a week, eight hours a day, rehabilitation program. He learnt more in these fours weeks than he had during his entire six month stay at RRC in Sydney.

The next step in Joshua’s rehabilitation was Beyond Therapy. This intensive physical rehabilitation program focuses on regaining movement and strength through activating muscle memory using electrodes and machines such as the locomat.

The Fighter and His Grin

This is not a situation that anyone would like to find themselves in. It is incredibly difficult – not just physically but on an emotional and mental level as well.

Joshua has found himself in a situation that not even those closest to him can fully understand. Each day is the ultimate test of strength and commitment leaving Joshua exhausted and completely drained.

But through it all he has demonstrated his herculean determination and embraced aspects of his character that he didn’t know he had.

Joshua is a true inspiration to everyone who knows him or has heard his story. When given so many reasons to quit, he has done the opposite. He has approached his situation head on, with the unique and lovable grin those that know him adore.

Joshua is determined to walk again.