County treasurer sues chiropractor after strokeChristie Gunkel claims an Aug. 8 neck adjustment she received from Gary Hendrix, a Mitchell chiropractor, caused a “dissection,” or tear, in an artery in her neck, resulting in a stroke.
By: Chris Mueller, The Daily Republic
A Mitchell woman is suing a chiropractor for allegedly causing her to have a stroke.
The lawsuit was filed Wednesday at the Davison County Clerk of Court’s Office by plaintiff Christie Gunkel, who recently became treasurer of Davison County. Gunkel claims an Aug. 8 neck adjustment she received from Gary Hendrix, a chiropractor with an office located at 310 N. Lawler St. in Mitchell, caused a “dissection,” or tear, in an artery in her neck, resulting in a stroke.
In her complaint, Gunkel alleges Hendrix breached the standard of care and failed to inform Gunkel of all the risks involved in the neck adjustment. Gunkel is represented by attorney Renee H. Christensen, of Sioux Falls.
In an interview Thursday with The Daily Republic, Gunkel gave her version of the events that led to the lawsuit.
Gunkel said she went to Hendrix’s office on Aug. 8 because of soreness in her neck, and Hendrix treated her with a neck adjustment.
“I just noticed something wasn’t right,” Gunkel said.
Later that day, Gunkel went to the emergency room at Avera Queen of Peace Hospital in Mitchell, where she suffered a stroke, she said. From there, Gunkel was taken by ambulance to Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls, where she spent four days undergoing CT scans and MRIs, as well as physical and occupational therapy.
Gunkel said she was hardly able to move in her bed during her first two days in the hospital.
“I would fall over to the right and didn’t have any balance,” she said.
Since being released from the hospital, Gunkel’s problems with balance and memory have improved but have not disappeared completely, and she still has pain in the arm affected by the stroke, she said.
Gunkel claims she suffered permanent injury, experienced and will continue to experience “great pain, discomfort, mental anguish and loss of enjoyment of life,” and has “been unable to perform several normal functions of life,” the complaint says.
“I’m just lucky to be alive,” she said.
Gunkel took over as Davison County treasurer on Jan. 2, less than four months after having the stroke. She beat then-Treasurer Brenda Veldheer in a June Republican primary and was unopposed in the November general election.
“I feel like I can still complete the duties as needed,” she said.
Gunkel is seeking compensation for her injuries, pain and suffering, and medical expenses, the complaint says, but no specific amount is named.
Hendrix had not filed a response to the lawsuit as of Thursday afternoon. Multiple calls made to Hendrix’s office Thursday afternoon were met with busy signals.
Strokes following chiropractic adjustment are common enough that information about them is readily available on the Internet. The Abelson Law Firm, based in Washington, D.C., is not involved in the Gunkel case but specializes in personal injury cases, including chiropractic malpractice.
“Chiropractic manipulation of the spine, particularly through a sudden twist of the neck, can lead to a stroke,” the firm’s website says. “This is an issue that chiropractors don’t like to talk about, and in fact appears to be seriously underreported in the literature.”