Stroke victim blames chiropractic neck adjustment for his condition

Saturday April 27, 2002

Les Limage, who suffered a stroke five days after a chiropractor manipulated his neck, sits in his room at the Freeport Health Centre.
WATERLOO -- Les Limage was always on the go, and he loved it.

When he wasn't overseeing his car dealership, he was helping his wife renovate their new Waterloo bungalow.

When he wasn't planting flowers in his backyard garden, he was spending time with his six children and 13 grandchildren.

But now all that has changed.

Limage, who turns 67 today, suffered a stroke Dec. 5 and has been in hospital since.

Unable to walk and barely able to see or talk, Limage believes the stroke is the result of a visit to a Waterloo chiropractor in late November.

At that point, chiropractor George Hickson manipulated Limage's neck to relieve a pain caused by a hip replacement Limage had years ago.

Other than the pain, Limage said he was in good health at the time.

"My life has changed completely," said Limage yesterday afternoon from his wheelchair in his Freeport Health Centre room.

His wife Flo standing beside him, her hand on the sleeve of his polo shirt, Limage's raspy, whispered voice was almost inaudible.

"All I want is to feel normal again and go home with my wife," said Limage. "That's all I want."

Returning to his home, his wife and his old life is nothing more than a dream right now. He's already been forced to give up his Waterloo car dealership because his future health is so uncertain.

As he waits for this future to unfold, Limage is concentrating his efforts elsewhere. In late March, he and his wife filed a medical negligence lawsuit against Hickson.

Hickson would not return reporters' phone calls yesterday or Thursday.

As a result of the lawsuit, the Limages are featured in a W5 television special, which will air tomorrow at 7 p.m. on CTV.

The case is being handled by Brampton lawyer Amani Oakley, who is also dealing with two similar cases.

Her clients include the family of Lana Lewis -- the deceased 45-year-old woman at the centre of a Toronto inquest that began this week. Lewis died in 1996, 17 days after Toronto chiropractor Philip Emanuale manipulated her neck as a treatment for migraine headaches.

The inquest is exploring whether there is a relationship between the neck manipulation and the stroke that killed her.

Critics, including a number of Canadian neurologists, say neck manipulation can lead to strokes by damaging the walls of an artery which supplies blood to the brain.

The Canadian Chiropractic Association and other members of the chiropractic community maintain the risk of stroke or stroke-like symptoms is minuscule -- one or two cases in every million treatments.

Lawyers for chiropractors plan to argue at the inquest that Lewis, a heavy drinker and smoker, died of natural causes.

As lawyers argue back and forth in Toronto, Limage struggles with day-to-day living in his small Kitchener hospital room, his wife at his side every day.

Although he's been off his respirator for two weeks, and out of Grand River Hospital's intensive care unit for a month, Limage is very weak. He spends a good part of his day in bed and is fed intravenously.

He tries to watch the Toronto Maple Leaf hockey games on television, but his eye sight is now so fuzzy, he can't see the puck.

Limage's wife, who worked at the dealership, hates to see him suffer like this.

"I just know how hard this is for him," said Flo yesterday, tears welling in her eyes as she stood beside Limage, who she describes as a fighter.

"I know how much he hates to sit around."

The stroke has taken a toll on Flo as well.

"It's taken our life away," she said. "Every night is a lonely night. I leave the hospital and go home and he's not there with me.

"I've lost my companion. I'm waiting and hoping for the day he can come back home with me."

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