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The paramedic said she was paralyzed after breaking her neck while stretching



(CBS) – A 23-year-old paramedic was partially paralyzed after stretching the neck and destroying a major artery, she said.

Natalie Kunicki She works for a London rescue service and will be in rehabilitation for up to a year, she said. She watched TV in bed with friends after a night, when she reached up and heard a loud crack, she said.

When she got up 15 minutes later to use the toilet, she collapsed and could not move her left leg.

She called a paramedic and was taken to a hospital where she learned that a major artery had been in her throat. They parted and sent a blood clot into her brain that caused a stroke.

She was stunned, she said.

"The doctors later told me that only the stretching of my neck led to the rupture of the vertebral artery." She said. "It was just spontaneous, and there's a million chance it happens."

Dr. Michelle Collie, a Rhode Island Physiotherapy expert, said she has never heard of such an unusual accident. "There's usually an extraordinary amount of trauma involved," she told InsideEdition.com.

But cervical and spinal injuries can be very crippling, and they are forcing people to pay attention to the way they sit and stretch.

As you stretch your neck, be sure to turn left and right and up and down, she said. Do not twist your neck in a circle and make jerky movements.

The cracking of one's neck is usually fine, she said, but do not let anyone, except trained professionals, manipulate your neck or spine.

She also advised avoiding this for long periods of sitting or lingering. "Do not move has a very negative impact," she said. Remember to keep your chin level with the ground, and imagine pulling a piece of string from your head to bring the spine in the right direction.

Kunicki said she has regained a feeling on her left side, but many hours of therapy is ahead of her. Doctors monitor the clot in their brains and hope it dissolves over time. They repaired their damaged artery with a stent.

"I'm determined to get back to work," she said.

Kunicki has the advantage of being young in her favor, Collie said. "I would not be surprised if she returns in a few months, where she was before," said Collie.


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