Line Lamarre was just 41 years old, and a healthy, active mother to two young boys when she suffered a chiropractic stroke in Ottawa on January 16, 2004.
She had been seeing the chiropractor for discomfort in her shoulder blade area. She hadn’t been getting a satisfactory result from the chiropractic treatments, and intended to discontinue them, when she woke up one morning with a stiff neck. She saw the chiropractor, not for the neck, but because she already had an appointment scheduled. He manipulated her neck and told her to return in two days so he could follow up. She woke up the morning of January 16, 2004 feeling absolutely fine but felt guilty about cancelling her early morning appointment with the chiropractor on such short notice, so she went to report to him that she her neck stiffness was gone and she felt great. The chiropractor insisted on manipulating her neck, anyway.
Within seconds of the manipulation, Line was unable to walk, talk, hear or see properly, her head was badly aching and her neck was in great pain. She sat on the cold floor of the chiropractor’s office and threw up uncontrollably into a garbage can. The chiropractor didn’t call for an ambulance until Line’s husband turned up. He demanded that 911 be called. The chiropractor was instead trying to convince him to just take Line home, and had been tapping her on the back of the neck with a hammer to try to “unpinch” the nerve he claimed was pinched and causing all of the problems.
Fortunately for Line, her husband didn’t listen to the chiropractor. Line was taken to hospital where she was diagnosed with a torn vertebral artery, stroke, and damage to three areas of her brain. She received excellent hospital care but continues to have stroke-related problems .
Line’s case is scheduled for trial in Ottawa in April 2012. The chiropractic profession will be challenging that a chiropractor can even cause a stroke by once again trotting out chiropractor Dr. David Cassidy and the study he released in 2008 that purports to “prove” that chiropractors don’t cause strokes and that any association with chiropractic treatment and stroke is just coincidental. The Cassidy study’s hypothesis for what the authors believe to be a coincidental association is that “patients with undiagnosed vertebral artery dissection are seeking clinical care for headache and neck pain before having a VBA stroke.”
But that’s where Line’s case will be monumental. The Cassidy study has been presented to judges in courtrooms right across Canada. Every defence expert who uses it testifies that it “proves” chiropractors can’t cause strokes, or that if they do, it’s because the stroke was already in progress when the chiropractor treated the patient. The supposed symptoms of that stroke in progress are headache and neck pain. But Line had neither a headache nor neck pain when she received her treatment on January 16, 2004—coincidentally the same day that a Toronto jury handed down a long list of recommendations aimed at the chiropractic profession after 44-year-old Lana Dale Lewis died following a chiropractic manipulation..
Line’s case is likely to single-handedly debunk the Cassidy study, but so far he has refused to turn over his raw data and statistics for independent evaluation—despite the fact that he has been slated to testify for the defendant chiropractor at trial.
I would think that if Dr. Cassidy is so confident in his study’s findings, he would be happy to have them independently verified. It’s odd that he has no concerns about appearing in many courts and testifying under oath about what he believes his study proves. He has given dozens and dozens of talks and interviews about the strength of his study, but he’s refusing to allow a court to take a closer look at the data which form the foundation of his study. I think that he and the chiropractic profession in general are concerned that independent scrutiny of the study may show it has flaws. Why else would he have a concern about having the raw data examined? The study was paid for by Ontario tax payer dollars, so the public has a right to that data.
For additional Information
- Chiropractic’s dirty secret: Neck manipulation and strokes.
- Ernst E. Vascular accidents after chiropractic manipulation: Myth or reality? Perfusion 23:73-74, 2010.
- Lawsuit against chiropractor settled
Ms. Oakley has represented many patients who have suffered a stroke from chiropractic manipulations. She was the family lawyer in the Lewis Inquest in Toronto, which ran for 18 months. She can be reached at (905) 754-3795 or via cell phone at (647) 201-8536.
This article was posted on January 18, 2012.