Special Report: Are chiropractors being unfairly blamed for strokes?

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

It’s amazing that Elizabeth Caplan is able to simply make coffee.

She’s a former nurse who suffered a devastating stroke when she was 44-years-old.

Caplan said it happened while she was seeing a chiropractor.

Her neck had just been adjusted when something went terribly wrong.

Her previous medical training told her that she was in trouble.

“I’m on the table and I say oh my God what’s happening to me, I’m having a stroke,” Caplan said.

She says someone eventually called an ambulance.

“I was blind in one eye.  I’d lost all the control of my bowel and bladder.  I couldn’t walk very well,” she said.

She also couldn’t swallow on one side. It took months of rehab to relearn the basics.

Now Elizabeth is fighting to place restrictions on chiropractors.

“To have the expectation that you when you go to get help you are given the information and told the risks that are involved,” she said.

Malpractice insurance is mandated by law for medical doctors and that requires them to let patients know the risks of treatment.

As of 2006, chiropractors do have to have malpractice insurance but do have to practice informed consent.

Chris Wadell, President of the Oklahoma Board of Chiropracactic Examiners said it hasn’t been needed.

“We don’t hide from this but it just hasn’t been necessary to do it,” Wadell said.

He insists that chiropractors are helping people and are being unfairly blamed for strokes after a patient’s neck is adjusted.

“What we have to understand is there are movements in the neck that can create this same stroke regardless if you’ve been to a chiropractor,” Wadell said.

Dr. Bill Kinsinger, President of the Oklahoma Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision strongly disagrees.

Kinsinger says manipulation is a legitimate therapy if done by medical professionals with the proper training.

He also says the educational requirements of a medical doctor versus a chiropractor aren’t comparable.

In general, to get into medical school, a student must have a minimum of 3.5 grade point average and 4 years college with heavy science and math.

According to the America Chiropractic Association, up until 2014, requirements in general for Chiropractic School were three years of college and an average GPA of 2.5 to 3.2

When it comes to disciplining chiropractors, in the last 5 years ,11 chiropractors have been punished, but not a single case involved patient care.

Most cases dealt with overdue license renewal.

Only one chiropractor had his license revoked permanently and that was for growing marijuana.

A chiropractor has never been disciplined in Oklahoma for neck manipulation that led to stroke.

Elizabeth Caplan’s chiropractor was not disciplined and is now practicing in Utah.

As for Jeremy Youngblood, who died from a stroke after seeing a chiropractor, that chiropractor is still practicing in Oklahoma.

We went to Ada to talk with him.

When we asked him to do an interview about Youngblood, Dr. Riden declined.

Youngblood’s autopsy says he died of a stroke due to neck manipulation.

Some want to know why more people haven’t heard of chiropractic stroke.

Kinsinger said there is little policing of chiropractors and sometimes the lag time between a neck adjustment and a stroke can be days or even weeks.

“That’s why usually nobody puts two and two together. That’s one of the reason we don’t have the data we should have,” Dr. Kinsinger said.

For Jeremy Youngblood’s mother, Linda Youngblood, data and statistics simply boil down to a very personal loss and deep skepticism.

“I think they need to put a stop to it.  They need to put a stop to it.  They need to let people know when they go in there this could kill you,” she 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.



Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Latest News

More News

National News

More National

Washington D.C.

More Washington

Your Local Election HQ

More Your Local Election HQ

Daily Oklahoma Coronavirus Data

Contact In Your Corner Team

Latest News

More News


KFOR Digital Originals

More Digital Original

Follow @KFOR on Twitter

Border Report

More Border Report