Spinal cord injuries can change a person’s life in an instant. Along with the physical effects of these injuries, damage to the spinal cord can also impact a person psychologically, especially when long-term impairment is a factor. The Mayo Clinic provides the following information on spinal cord injuries, including risk factors and complications.

The severity of an injury usually depends on what part of the spine sustained damaged. Complete loss of function in all limbs is called tetraplegia. This condition also impacts the hands, feet, and pelvic muscles. A person may also experience paraplegia, which impacts the lower extremities alone. Paralysis can be complete, meaning no sensation or function can be found in the affected areas, or non-complete, where there is minimal sensation and function.

While anyone can experience a serious spinal injury, some people have a greater risk than others. Elderly people older than 65 often suffer spinal damage as a result of falls. This has much to do with decreased mobility, which is an effect of aging. People with conditions that affect bone and joint health are also more likely to suffer from this type of injury. Spine injuries can happen for all sorts of reasons, but they’re commonly caused by falls and car accidents.

Serious injuries usually entail complications, some of which can be life-altering. When mobility is vastly limited muscle atrophy can be an issue. Muscle spasms may also occur, as can chronic pain, emotional issues, and even problems with sexual functionality. The respiratory and circulatory systems may also be compromised, which leads to a range of health issues. Problems with bowel and bladder control are also common with more serious injuries.