‘I had no idea’: Calgary mom says she had a stroke after a chiropractor visit

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‘I had no idea’: Calgary mom says she had a stroke after a chiropractor visit
WATCH: A Calgary woman who suffered a stroke following a routine visit to the chiropractor is sharing her struggle. She says it's a decision that altered her life. Jill Croteau has her story. – May 18, 2021

Barbara Shand is a busy working mom of two who rarely indulges in moments of quiet. But she now finds herself giving in to the solitude, out of necessity.

She is hoping to heal from a stroke she suffered on Jan. 29, 2021.

“It’s a right vertebral artery dissection. One of the four major arteries that sends blood to my brain was torn from the inside out,” Shand said.

Shand, who works for Corus Entertainment, a parent company of Global News, said the injury happened during a visit to a chiropractor. She went in for treatment for nagging neck pain — a decision she said she regrets.

Shand journals her experience. Jill Croteau/Global News

“Near the very end of the appointment, she asked: ‘Do you want your neck adjusted?’ I said: ‘Sure.'”

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“As soon as she did it, everything went black,” Shand recalled.

“I could hear a tiny bit but I couldn’t see. I could hear them calling 911.”

She was rushed to hospital by ambulance.

“When I did open my eyes, I couldn’t focus. It was all blurry, I had massive vertigo, I didn’t know what was up or down,” Shand said.

Read more: Fundraising campaign aiming to improve outcomes for stroke patients within Interior Health

The Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors (ACAC) is the regulatory body monitoring clinical and ethical standards in the industry. ACAC is also responsible for registering chiropractors in Alberta. In a statement, ACAC acknowledged “there have been reported cases of stroke associated with visits to various health-care practitioners, including those that provide cervical spine manipulation.” But they say it is rare.

“The scientific evidence does not establish a cause-and-effect relationship between chiropractic treatment and the occurrence of stroke. Cervical spine manipulation (neck adjustment) has been, and continues to be, studied extensively to determine its safety and clinical effectiveness. Studies continue to point to the fact that risk of serious adverse effects associated with neck adjustments are very low, making this form of treatment extremely safe.”

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Shand continues to struggle with coordination and balance.

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“I can move my hands and my arm but there is a connection missing in my brain. When I’m chopping onions or flossing my son’s teeth or putting mascara on, there is something missing,” Shand said.

She does daily physiotherapy and is being treated by a neurologist who is confident for a full recovery.  Shand said it continues to be difficult and savours the time she has with her husband, Travis, and their children, Sophia and Brody. She said the journey is long and painful.

“I was in a dark place, and I was very depressed even though I was grateful to be alive.”

“It’s been awful, and I almost didn’t share this story but I felt this was my responsibility to share this,” Shand said. “I was trusting and comfortable with this treatment and now I’m affected by it for the rest of my life.”

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