Paralyzed woman in Alberta launches suit against chiropractors

Sandra Nette after her stroke

A woman in Alberta who suffered a stroke after neck manipulation by a chiropractor believes that it is the cause of her stroke.

Sandra Nette launched her suit on Thursday.

–CTV.ca News Staff

An Alberta woman is at the forefront of a landmark lawsuit after a neck adjustment she received from her chiropractor allegedly triggered a massive stroke that has left her paralyzed and disabled.

The class-action suit — filed by Sandra Nette and her husband David Nette on Thursday in Edmonton — is asking for more than $500 million in damages for the alleged victim, and for anyone in the province who alleges they have been treated or harmed by chiropractors who deliver “inappropriate and non-beneficial adjustments.”

The suit, the first of its kind in Canada, names:

  • the couple’s chiropractor, Gregory John Stiles;
  • The Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors; and
  • The Alberta Ministry of Health and Wellness.

The Nettes charge that by allowing chiropractors to use “ineffective” and “dangerous” neck adjustments, the ministry has “placed an uncontrolled public health risk into the primary health care marketplace.” The statement of claim contains allegations that haven’t been proven in court. No statement of defence has been filed.

According to the suit, Sandra Nette had been going to her Edmonton-area chiropractor for several years, for what her husband described as preventative maintenance. She claimed she had no specific health complaints and was healthy at the time.

When driving home after her last appointment on Sept. 13, 2007, Nette recalled she felt dizzy and was experiencing vision loss. She pulled over to the side of the road and called her husband, who took her to Edmonton’s Royal Alexandra Hospital.

Doctors there determined she suffered multiple strokes as a result of a tear to both vertebral arteries in the upper part of her neck, according to the lawsuit. She required surgery and then was taken to the University of Alberta Hospital.

nerves and blood vessels in head and neck

“The doctor at the time, I will never forget it, (looked) at me and the first words out of his mouth after doing the MRI results were simply: ‘chiropractor, right?'” Dave Nette told CTV News. “I was absolutely shocked. I had not put that together that there could be any connection.”

Sandra Nette before her stroke.Dave Nette claims his wife, who was 40 at the time of her stroke, was in perfect health. “Never did drugs, a non smoker… Always maintained perfect weight,” he said. “From diet to fitness I would have to say that certainly my wife is and was … in better shape than myself.”

….She said she was never fully warned that a stroke could be a rare complication of neck adjustments….

Some studies, however, say the procedure is safe. The chiropractic community, including the Canadian Chiropractic Association, has always maintained the risk of stroke or serious injury from chiropractic neck manipulation is very small.

…. Nevertheless, neck adjustments have been under considerable scrutiny for over a decade, since the death of 22-year-old Laurie Mathiason, who suffered a fatal stroke after a chiropractic neck treatment in Saskatoon.

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