As @WYSIWYG pointed, muscular atrophy is the main cause for height decrease.
A spine injury leads to neural impairment and paresis / paralysis. This affects directly muscular trophism. It also limits physical activity, this being another favoring factor for muscular atrophy and overweight issues . Association of bone degenerative processes (osteoporosis, osteopathy, osteolysis) is also a factor and it is dangerous because it promotes spinal cord injuries if vertebral height reduction amount is notable .
Focusing on muscular atrophy, here is how it can decrease height: by increasing vertebral column curvatures mostly on the upper region with articulating vertebrae. The vertebral column tends to gain a spring-like, spiral shape, associating accentuated cervical lordosis, accentuated thoracic kyphosis and thoracic scoliosis.
Image source: Scoliosis Treatment Alternatives. Chiropractic for Scoliosis Treatment Review (2014). Accessed 21.07.2014
While reading the comments to the question I found something interesting:
we know that the brain tells the body to grow, would a shock or something make the brain tell your body to shrink instead of growing?
Yes, the brain (hypotalamus) initiates a neuroendocrine response that leads to growth hormone secretion. The secretion is about 700 micrograms/day in a young adolescent, while in a healthy adult it is about 400 micrograms/day . The deficiency in an adult person leads to a tendency of fat mass increase and a relative decrease in muscle mass and, in many instances, decreased energy and quality of life . The brain can't "tell your body to shrink", but the lack of "communication" between the brain and organs leads to less to absolutely no use of that organ, thus inducing atrophy. The lack of both external and internal stimuli leads to atrophy (in general) .
- Gupta N, White KT, Sandford PR. Body mass index in spinal cord injury -- a retrospective study. Spinal Cord. 2006 Feb;44(2):92-4. doi: 10.1038/sj.sc.3101790. PubMed PMID: 16030513.
- Ji L, Dang XQ, Lan BS, Wang KZ, Huang YJ, Wen B, Duan HH, Ren F. Study on the safe range of shortening of the spinal cord in canine models. Spinal Cord. 2013 Feb;51(2):134-8. doi: 10.1038/sc.2012.99. PubMed PMID: 22945745.
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- Wikipedia contributors, "Atrophy," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Atrophy&oldid=611770442 (accessed July 21, 2014).