Olathe man says neck adjustment at chiropractor led to stroke - KCTV5

Olathe man says neck adjustment at chiropractor led to stroke

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An Olathe man says he went into an Overland Park chiropractor’s office for an adjustment and left in an ambulance. Josh Clark says a simple visit at Spine Aline led to a stroke. (Submitted) An Olathe man says he went into an Overland Park chiropractor’s office for an adjustment and left in an ambulance. Josh Clark says a simple visit at Spine Aline led to a stroke. (Submitted)
OVERLAND PARK, KS (KCTV) -

An Olathe man says he went into an Overland Park chiropractor’s office for an adjustment and left in an ambulance.

Josh Clark, 34, says a simple visit at Spine Aline, which is operated by Dr. Rick Connolly Walker, led to a stroke.

“My symptoms happened laying on the table,” Clark said. “The word forceful came into my mind. That was more forceful than I ever felt was done, and before I even sat up on the table, I instantly had a major head rush and started sweating. Then within five seconds, sweat all the way to my fingertips, and I was getting dizzy."

Clark says he threw up all over the office and then stumbled to the bathroom.

“It felt like I was upside down, like I was falling up. So I was kind of hugging the toilet, throwing up ... trying not to fall into the roof. At that point, I had no control over myself at that point. That's when I knew it was pretty bad,” Clark said.

Clark said he asked the doctor to call 911 as he was passing in and out of consciousness. He says Walker kept working on other patients while taking breaks to check on him.

Clark remembers waking up inside an emergency room and wondering why so many doctors were in his room. Clark began speaking gibberish, and doctors realized he was having a stroke. They warned his doctors and parents.

“He’s either going to wake up with, 'We don't know what could be wrong, or he's going to die in the next few minutes.' It's one of those options, and they brought chaplains out for my parents and my wife,” recalls Clark.

Today, Clark doesn’t look like a person who suffered a stroke. Doctors credit his youth and physical fitness, but Clark credits his doctors.

“The doctors at Shawnee Mission that caught it as fast as they did, that was one of the main reasons is how fast they caught what was going on,” said Clark. 

But who is to blame? Clark’s neurologist provided this statement to the lawyer now representing Clark"

“I believe with reasonable medical certainty that the vertebral artery dissection and subsequent stroke were the result of chiropractic manipulation that Mr. Clark received.”

Clark and his lawyer say they were stunned with the response from the insurance company.

“At this time we cannot voluntarily make any offer of payment to you or your client. Our investigation shows Dr. Connolly Walker did not deviate from acceptable medical practice in this situation.”

KCTV5 News reached out multiple times to Walker and he declined to comment on the case. However, other chiropractors warn neck adjustments can lead to problems and many patients are unaware of the risk.

“The profession down plays it. I mean obviously, it's not good publicity for a profession. You have people going there for headache neck pain and they are coming out with a stroke,” Dr. Alan Harris Bragman said.

Bragman is a chiropractor turned legal expert. He’s based out of Atlanta. He says he’s seen more than 500 cases of strokes due to cervical manipulation or neck adjustments.

“Of course, the chiropractor profession said this is very rare. but unfortunately this does happen and it happens all too frequently. You have to make a patient aware and this can be a potentially a life-threatening even you have to make a patient aware, Bragman said.

The debate about chiropractic related strokes remains unclear. The American Heart and Stoke Associated released a scientific statement in 2014 saying neck adjustments may be linked to an increased risk of stroke.

The American Chiropractic Association has released talking point for members to help them explain things to patients. The association says there is no clear link. People seeking chiropractic treatment for head and neck pain may be in the early beginning stages of a stroke. In other words, blame the problem and don’t blame the treatment.

The issue recently made the national spotlight when Playboy model Katie May died from a stroke. Published reports say the coroner’s report says her fatal injury was caused by "neck manipulation by chiropractor."

KCTV5 sent a patient undercover to Spine Align to see what Walker tells his patients about neck adjustments and the risk of a stroke:

“There's also cases where people actually can have strokes, but they are going to have a stroke anyway. Because what happens is you have the vertebral arteries up in the neck that go through cervical spine. And any kind of rotary movement that even that person would do could cause a stroke. Because it's typically due to healthy, unhealth lifestyle. They are going to have a stroke at some point anyway,” Walker said.

KCTV5’s patient asked if the doctor had ever had a problem, knowing he faces legal action in Clark’s case.

“Yeah, I mean I've been here for over seven years now and no issues,” said Walker

Clark says that’s not true. He blames Walker for his stroke.

While Clark has resumed most of his activities, he says he has lingered health concerns and worries about obtaining life and health insurance down the road as a young stroke victim.

“It’s hard. It took a lot away from me for something I didn’t cause,” Clark said.

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