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Grieving mom urges gov't to halt neck manipulations
Anne Kyle
Saskatchewan News Network; Regina Leader-Post

REGINA -- The mother of a Saskatoon woman who died following a chiropractic neck procedure is calling on Health Minister John Nilson and his provincial counterparts put a moratorium in place on neck manipulations, which have been associated with fatal strokes, paralysis and crippling brain injuries.

Sharon Mathieson's 20-year-old daughter Laurie died Feb. 7, 1998, following a chiropractic adjustment of her upper neck for lower back pain. A 1998 coroner's jury concluded Mathieson's daughter died from a traumatic rupture of the left vertebral artery.

"No chiropractic authority has ever shown this particular act to be good for anything, nor has it ever shown that in fact anything has been adjusted. . . . If high neck manipulation were a medication, with all that is currently known, it would have been removed from the therapeutic market years ago," Mathieson told reporters at a news conference at the legislature on Friday.

Speaking on behalf of the families of other Canadians who died or were permanently disabled after undergoing this procedure, Mathieson called for a temporary halt to the chiropractic manipulation of the joints between the skull and top two vertebrae in the neck, which can cause damage in the vertebral arteries.

Backed by the written opinion of neurologists across Canada and from Harvard University in the United States, as well as pediatricians across Canada, the Saskatoon woman said chiropractors should quit performing this procedure until a thorough review can be completed by a team of chiropractors, neurologists and pediatricians as well as a patient advocate.

"If it does have a benefit, those people are going to tell us what that benefit is and what the risk associated with it is. And if that risk is completely out of line with any benefits, it should not be done," she said.

Patient safety is a top priority, said John Corrigan, president of the Chiropractors' Association of Saskatchewan, explaining an international task force on neck pain is halfway through a six-year study of high neck manipulation.

"We certainly are looking forward to hearing what the results of that study are so we can evaluate best practices and have a better understanding of the benefits as well as the risks," he said.

The best evidence indicates an adverse event or effect takes place in about one in every one million treatments, Corrigan said.

© The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon) 2004

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