Spinal cord paralysis represents a large percentage of the injuries sustained from these kinds of falls. Fractured and dislocated vertebrae can compress and/or sever the spinal cord. Death can occur, though this is less common than paralysis.
Significant delay in treatment can make a difference. Today, high-dose steroids are given to reduce inflammation (swelling). The sooner this treatment is given, the less pressure is put on the spinal cord. A complete spinal cord injury with total paralysis can be minimized to a case of partial paralysis. And patients who might have otherwise been partially paralyzed have a chance at full recovery.
Delays can also be accompanied by hypothermia with its own long-term consequences. Additional treatment for multiple other problems extends the risk of possible complications.
The lack of communication with outside help is a disadvantage in a serious injury of this type. Patients who lay undiscovered for a long period of time may have a worse outcome than those who are transported to a medical center immediately.