Local man suffers stroke after visit to chiropractor

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by Keith Meka

MILWAUKEE—Millions of people use chiropractors and swear by the results.

But one local man said that it was a trip to the chiropractor that cost him his job and his health.

Richard Rossert of Nashotah was a successful business man when a trip to the chiropractor to relieve his back pain changed his life forever.

Rossert said that he had a neck manipulation performed and afterwards the chiropractor told him that his system was all aligned.

After having his neck manipulated by the chiropractor Rossert made it
back to his office, but started having problems.

“I couldn’t get my key in the door. I guess I got it in there, but when I came around my desk I was gone,” Rossert said.

His secretary, a former nurse, realized that he was suffering symptoms of a stroke and called an ambulance immediately.

Doctors said Rossert suffered a vertebral artery dissection, or the tearing of an artery that supplies blood to the brain, and that caused the stroke.

Rossert said that he definitely believes the chiropractor caused his stroke.

“It happens a lot more than you realize,” said Attorney Karl Gebhard.
Gebhard has worked on three of these types of cases.

Rossert hired him to represent him against the chiropractor.

The chiropractor had his license in Wisconsin pulled because of this case.

“When I started out I couldn't read or write so I was in therapy for two years. I still can't read or write,” said Rossert.

He was a carpenter by trade which meant he had to re-learn his trade which meant re-learn the numbers, but even before he got to that point he had to re-learn how to talk,” Gebhard said.

Rossert tried, but wasn’t able to continue running his business so he was forced to close down.

Despite numerous studies it’s unclear exactly how many strokes have been caused by chiropractic neck manipulations.

One study says that there a 1.3 strokes for every 100,000 patients under 45 years old.

Another study points to only one stoke in every 1 million chiropractic neck manipulations.

CBS 58 spoke with Doctor Scott Bautch from the American Chiropractic Association.

“People go to the chiropractor and have heart attacks and have gall bladders and have other things. We see a huge amount of the population,” said Bautch.

Bautch said that before performing neck manipulations there are cardiovascular tests and other things chiropractors do to find out if a patient may be at higher risk for a stroke.

He said that patients are also made aware of the risks.

“Of all the treatment options for neck pain chiropractics has been shown to be safe and effective and cost effective,” Bautch said.

“Chiropractors have the highest satisfaction rates of any primary care doctor,” Bautch said.

Neurologist John Rothrock who was named one of America’s top doctors said that although it’s rare, studies point to a definite link between chiropractic neck manipulations and stroke.

He said that in many cases it’s a patient’s bad luck rather than bad health when it happens.

“I know what it's like to go through one. I can certainly see why in an unlucky patient it can cause tearing the wall of the vertebral artery and dissection and stroke,” Rothrock said.

But the chiropractic community insists that neck manipulations are very safe.

But, Dr. Bautch said they’re always working hard to try and make it safer to prevent strokes and other problems.

“The risk is very very low, but the benefits are unproven so why take the risk at all,” Rothrock said.

Richard Rossert said that he wishes that he hadn’t taken that risk.

“Somebody asks me you’re going to a chiropractor I say you're nuts,” said Rossert.

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