This case involves a 23-year-old male college football player who sustained a vertebral artery dissection and cerebellar stroke following a chiropractic manipulation. The patient had been experiencing neck pain and headaches following a game injury and consulted a chiropractor for treatment. The injuries that the patient sustained from the manipulation were so severe that he could not return to playing football. It was alleged that the chiropractor performed a manipulation that was unsuitable for the patient based on his previously sustained injuries.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. What is your experience treating patients who have sustained similar injuries?
- 2. Are you familiar with the proper manipulations that should and should not be performed on patients? Please explain.
Expert Witness Response E-047232
I teach chiropractic technique at a chiropractic college and am very familiar with manipulative techniques. Instances of patients patients sustaining these types of injuries are so rare. No one should have their upper cervical segments manually adjusted after a known cerebrovascular accident, especially if it was known to have occurred in the Basilar artery. The same applies to any situation in which there is a known abdominal aortic aneurysm. Dizziness, nausea, and other stroke-like symptoms can occur after an upper cervical or occipital manipulation. These symptoms may cause a patient to believe they have had a stroke even when they have not. A few questions regarding the manipulation itself: Did the chiropractor properly document an examination for stroke symptoms? Did the chiropractor adjust the upper cervical spine and in what fashion? How long was it between the adjustment and the symptom presentation?