Car crashes occur every day in New Mexico, but some accidents are more severe than others. One of the more catastrophic injuries people can experience is damage to the spinal cord that causes paralysis.

The Mayo Clinic states that a “sudden, traumatic blow to your spine” can damage the spinal cord in some way. Car accidents exert enough force to cause injury to the spine, making them the leading cause of these types of injuries. Men between 16 and 30 have the highest risk of a spinal cord injury. 

A spinal cord injury can result in immediate or delayed symptoms. Seek immediate medical attention if you develop any of the following symptoms after an accident:

  • Impaired breathing
  • Extreme pressure or pain in the back, neck or head
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Numbness or loss of sensations
  • Difficulty balancing
  • Difficulty coughing
  • Exaggerated reflex activities
  • Sexual function changes

You should always get medical help after an accident, regardless of whether or not you feel immediate symptoms. The longer you wait to see a doctor, the worse your medical condition can become, sometimes without you even realizing you are injured.

Types of paralysis

WebMD states there are multiple types of paralysis. A loss of movement in certain body parts often indicates that the spinal cord is having trouble communicating with the brain, resulting in paralysis. People can experience permanent or temporary paralysis in a localized area or throughout the whole body. 

Some people may experience incomplete or partial paralysis in which they have some control over movements or feelings. Paralysis can affect one limb or all four. The muscles in a paralyzed body part may continue to move uncontrollably in spasms while others may simply be limp. Over time, paralysis can cause the muscles themselves to shrink and sag due to loss of blood flow.