Overland Park chiropractor faces lawsuit over 'forceful' neck adjustment

A local chiropractor, who was once the focus of a KCTV News undercover investigation, now faces a lawsuit. (KCTV5)

A local chiropractor, who was once the focus of a KCTV News undercover investigation, now faces a lawsuit.

Josh Clark is young and healthy. He says a stroke in his mid-30s was caused by a chiropractor following a neck adjustment. The treatment was provided by Dr. Rick Connolly-Walker.

“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 and then within 5 seconds sweat all the way to my fingertips and I was getting dizzy,” Clark said.

Clark went to Spinealign in Overland Park for aches and pains and left on a stretcher. He was rushed to the emergency room where he had a stroke. Doctors talked to his wife 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. Out for my parents and my wife,” Clark said.

Clark went into atrial fibrillation, stopped breathing and was eventually placed on a ventilator. His neurologist provided a letter to his lawyer:“I believe with reasonable medical certainty that the vertebral artery dissection and subsequent stroke were the result of chiropractic manipulation that Mr. Clark received.”

Connolly-Walker’s insurance company denied the claim saying what occurred was “acceptable medical practice in this situation.” Clark has now filed a lawsuit claiming negligence.

It questions the training and competency of Connolly-Walker, and Clark claims he wasn’t told about the risks of his treatment.

Connolly-Walker declined to speak to KCTV5 about what happened to Clark and hung up the phone when we reached out for comment on the pending lawsuit.

Are neck adjustments safe?

That is under debate in the medical community.

“If I twist someone's head to the right it dramatically puts pressure on the left vertebral artery,” said Dr. Alan Harris Bragman.

Bragman is a chiropractor turned legal expert who claims he’s seen more than 500 cases of strokes due to cervical manipulation, neck adjustments.

“The profession downplays 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,” said Bragman.

The American Chiropractic Association has released “talking points” for members on how to answer questions about strokes.

That organization says there is no clear link. People suffering from head and neck pain may be in the beginning stages of a stroke before they ever walk into a chiropractors office. Don’t blame the treatment, blame the problem.

The American Heart Association believes there’s a link. and some British researchers concluded the concern appears to be justified.

However, there are no hard numbers for what that slight risk may be. Some chiropractors no longer use this technique because of the negative publicity associated with it.

Copyright 2018 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.


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