Josh Kujundzic’s Story

Josh Kujundzic had just started going down the steep, unmarked trail near Simon Fraser University - a path he had ridden dozens of times previously - when the 18-year old lost control of his mountain bike and crashed head-first into a tree. Alone at the time, he figures it was hours before he regained consciousness. When he did, Josh struggled to move anything from the neck down.
After recovering from a spinal injury suffered during a mountain bike accident, Josh Kujundzic rekindled an interest in golf.

“I had zero feeling,” remembers Josh, who in that moment believed he had become quadriplegic.

But as night started to set in, the feeling slowly returned, and Josh managed to stagger up the hill.

“I was able to stumble my way up but fell and slipped a few times,” Josh says. “I went to get my phone out, but my arms were flailing around. I had no control.”

Fortunately, students who were driving by stopped and called 911. Josh was rushed by ambulance to Royal Columbian Hospital.

“He hit head-first, his head went back, and you can end up with a hyperextension injury,” explains Royal Columbian neurosurgeon Dr. Navraj Heran, who also notes Josh had a naturally narrow spinal canal that predisposed him to the injury. “It can result in cord compression resulting in a central cord injury. It often presents with burning pain, paralysis, sensory dysfunction.”

Rather than immediate surgery, Josh was hospitalized for three weeks while swelling of his spinal cord subsided. He then underwent a laminectomy in the operating room.

“That procedure removes the backbones of your spinal canal,” says Dr. Heran. “That creates more room for the spinal cord to move backwards a little bit and prevents any further compression.”

A week later, Josh returned home and began months of rehabilitation. “It was roughly six months before I was kind of back to my normal self,” says Josh. “But it was closer to a year before I was actually doing whatever I want.”

And it was four years before Josh rekindled an old interest: golf, which he had played competitively in high school. In 2015, he became inspired by professional golfer Jordan Spieth‘s win at the Masters Tournament.

“He’s around my age,” Josh points out. “Watching him win, that’s kind of where it clicked for me.”

With a goal of one day making the PGA, Josh has been working on his game since. He says he often takes a moment to recognize how fortunate he is for the care by Dr. Heran and Royal Columbian.

“I am out here swinging a golf club, and I could have just as easily been in a coffin or in a wheelchair. I have a lot of gratitude and appreciation for the care I was given by all the staff.”


Patient Stories