Spin Doctors: The Chiropractic Industry under Examination

By Paul Benedetti; Wayne Macphail | Go to book overview

5
NECK MANIPULATION AND STROKE
“But Mom, She is a Doctor”

Early on a warm summer evening, twenty-year-old Laurie Mathiason slipped and fell down a stairway at the A&W where she worked in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. It was July 23, 1997. She told her boyfriend, Doyle, that she had hurt her back, and he suggested she try his chiropractor. Laurie agreed.

Over the next months, the chiropractor adjusted the vertebrae of Laurie’s back, including those in her upper neck. In 21 separate visits, the chiropractor manipulated Laurie’s vertebrae 189 times. Though Laurie’s initial complaint was low-back pain, the chiropractor, on each visit, manipulated her neck.

On February 3, 1998, Laurie went in for her usual visit to the chiropractor. As she lay on the examining table face up, her chiropractor rapidly twisted her neck left and right. Laurie felt pain directly after the adjustment and a short time later was unable to turn her neck. That night, at the A&W, she walked into tables and dropped ashtrays and burgers. Her friends recall telling her repeatedly that she was a klutz. Her mother, Sharon, told her she should go to a doctor. “But mom,” Laurie replied, “she [the chiropractor] is a doctor.”

The next afternoon her neck was stiff and painful, and she booked another chiropractic appointment in the hope of getting some relief. The chiropractor’s office was in a shopping mall where her mother worked part time at a nearby health food store. Just before 2:00 P.M., Laurie dropped by her mother’s store with Doyle to say hello. Accompanied by Doyle, she went to her appoint-

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