30-year-old dies after visit to the chiropractor

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ADA, Okla. - 30-year-old Jeremy Youngblood was young, vibrant and attacking life head on when he died.

Linda Youngblood is haunted by the fact that when her son Jeremy went to a chiropractor in Ada, she ended up losing him.

"I try not to think about how it happened. I have nightmares and all kinds of things running through my mind that I don't want running through my mind," Linda said.

Jeremy had a stroke at the chiropractor's office.

After his stroke, the family says no one in the office called 9-1-1.  Instead, they called Jeremy's dad, Lynn, who is a bus driver, and told him to come get his son.

"It took all of us to get him off the table and onto the bus and get him to the emergency room he lay there for 6 hours," he said.

Jeremy was then flown to Oklahoma City for emergency treatment where he later passed away.

His dad will never forget the final moments.

"I don't know what he saw but whatever it was made me happy because he reached up.  Then he closed his eyes and that was it," Lynn said.

The autopsy says Jeremy died of acute cerebellar infarction due to manipulation of the neck.

Dr. Bill Kinsinger, President of the Oklahoma Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision, is an outspoken critic of chiropractic therapy.  He believes neck manipulation by chiropractors is dangerous and even deadly.

"The majority of the strokes happen in the vertebral arteries in the back.  The stress on that artery at that segment where it makes that turn against that bone is most susceptible to stroke," Kinsinger said.

The doctor says when a chiropractor adjusts your neck, it can cause a tear in the artery which basically tries to heal with a clot.

The clot can then break off and travels until the vessels become too small  and eventually can cause a stroke.

"It's not that these strokes are happening everyday, they're not. But they are happening and they're usually happening to young, otherwise healthy people who should have never been injured for benefit of nothing," Kinsinger said.

Kinsinger said it's all about risk versus benefit.

"We can talk all day about the lack of evidence of the benefit of neck manipulations for neck pain but beyond that they use neck manipulation for things that have nothing to do with the neck.  Low back pain, knee pain and all sorts of organic illnesses like ear infections in babies, colicky babies, P.M.S in women," Kinsinger said. "Bee sting therapy, snake oil salesman.  There's no more to it than that."

But chiropractic patient Chuck Mills is a believer.  He has been a patient for almost 50 years.

"I've been going all my life and I've gone to several different chiropractors and I feel pretty comfortable letting them adjust me in any way they need," Mills said.

Chris Waddell is the President of the Oklahoma Board of Chiropractic Examiners.   He says their work speaks for itself.

"I think if the benefits weren't there, people wouldn't utilize our services.  They know what works and what doesn't," Waddell said.

Wadell says data doesn't back up the idea that visits to the chiropractor can kill.

The data he's referring to is the Cassidy Study, which was done in Canada years ago.

"We found no evidence of excess risk of VBA stroke associated chiropractic care compared to primary care," the report states. "For those 45 years of age and older there was no association."

However, Kinsinger points to the same report where it says, "For those under 45 years of age, there was an increased association between chiropractic visits and VBA stroke."

Kinsinger says the study clearly states people under 45 years old do seem to be at greater risk.

"Strokes happen every day but they usually happen to old people. When the risk is death or stroke in a young individual we shouldn't be doing it at all," he said.

But for Linda Youngblood all it means is she will never see her son again.

"This is something a mother will never get over, I will never ever get over it.  I cry every day.  It's with me every day. It's never going to go away," Linda said.

Here is a statement from the Oklahoma Chiropractors Association.

The Oklahoma Chiropractors Association wishes to express its deepest condolences to the family of Jeremy Youngblood. The loss or harm of any patient is a very disturbing circumstance that medical professionals have struggled with throughout history.   Unfortunately, there is no single form of medical care without risks.

Oklahoma Chiropractors are proud to provide thousands of Oklahoman’s drug free medical care daily. The safety of chiropractic care is evident by the lowest medical malpractice insurance rates of any licensed medical profession.