A recent Georgia Southern University graduate who was left paralyzed after a routine chiropractor appointment had aspirations of being a chemist and solving environmental issues, her mother told told Dailymail.com.
‘She’s forever changed,’ Caitlin Jensen’s mom, Darlene Jensen said of the incident that snapped four arteries in her daughter’s neck, causing her 28-year-old daughter to experience cardiac arrest and a stroke, as well as a loss of pulse for over 10 minutes.
Dr. TJ Harpham, chiropractor at Richmond Hill Family Chiropractic, is the doctor who allegedly treated Caitlin, Inside Edition reported.
Harpham declined to speak to Inside Edition citing HIPAA. The office also told DailyMail.com that they declined to comment. The chiropractor’s biography has since been removed from the practice’s website.
Caitlin had been to Harpham on several occasions to address neck stiffness she was experiencing from ‘sitting at her desk for months working on her last classes,’ but had never undergone a neck adjustment, according to her mom.
‘You don’t think that a 28-year-old healthy woman is going to be having such an emergency and having a stroke.’
Jensen now languishes in a hospital bed and can only communicate with her eyes and partial parts of the left side of her body after the horrific incident on June 16.
Dr. TJ Harpham, chiropractor at Richmond Hill Family Chiropractic, is the alleged doctor who treated Caitlin multiple times, Inside Edition reported
Caitlin Jensen, 28, can only communicate with her eyes and portions of the left side of her body as she languishes in a hospital bed after the shocking incident on June 16
Jensen was rushed to hospital in Savannah, GA where it was revealed four arteries in her neck had been dissected during a routine neck adjustment
Darlene recalled the shocking call she received from Harpham on her daughter’s phone.
‘I just thought maybe she was dizzy,’ Darlene said. ‘It didn’t ever occur to me that it was a serious event. I just thought maybe she stood up too fast or she was slightly dizzy and they were being over cautious.’
‘I thought no big deal, I’ll go check on her. When I got there, I could very quickly see that we were in a serious situation.’
Darlene said she was by her daughter’s side when her heart stopped for 10 minutes.
‘They had done a CAT scan and brought her boyfriend and I back into the room to be with her and she started to deteriorate. They were trying to get her back to CAT scan and that’s when she went into cardiac arrest. We were there with her.’
Darlene has spent every day since by her daughter’s bedside at Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah, Georgia, only leaving to work part-time. Caitlin’s brother, who is home for the summer from college, has been rotating shifts with his mom until visiting hours end at 8 p.m.
‘It’s hard to see her laying there,’ Darlene said. ‘I wish I could take it from her. I would do it in a heartbeat. But we just try to be positive and focus on what we can control.’
‘A friend of ours gave us this mantra, “control what you can and try not to worry about what you can’t control,” and we think about that daily and try to practice that,’ she said, adding, ‘some moments are harder than others but we try our best to do that.’
The family has experienced an outpouring of support from family, friends, and strangers as Caitlin’s story reaches across the country.
She recalled the goals and aspirations her daughter had to care for the environment with a focus on sustainability.
‘I watched her get this degree and I watched how hard she’s worked and those classes are no joke,’ Darlene said. ‘We were really proud of her and excited for her. So it’s really terrible this is where we are at right now, but I’m hopeful we’ll be able to get her back and she can continue on one day. It’ll forever change her of course, but change isn’t always bad.’
Caitlin’s mom, Darlene told Dailymail.com: ‘You don’t think that a 28-year-old healthy woman is going to be having such an emergency and having a stroke’
The 28-year-old, who read chemistry and biology at college, is said to have visited the unnamed practice for a neck adjustment
Her family said they are working on getting the chemistry graduate out of hospital and into rehab, Jensen had aspirations of caring for the environment with a focus on sustainability
Chiropractors are not doctors – but do require years of training for certification
A chiropractor is not considered to be a doctor. They do not require a medical degree to practice.
They do require a license to practice, which often includes and average of eight years of training and passing a certification exam.
Continued education classes are generally required to maintain licensing as well.
Chiropractors have been criticized for providing improper – if not dangerous – case to patients where proper medical treatment would suffice.
While studies have shown that spinal manipulation can allive back pain and other similar ailments, there is little proof the treatment works for anything else.
‘The founder of chiropractic treatment wrongly believed that all ailments can be alleviated with spinal manipulation, and this false panacea notion persists today among some practitioners,’ Dr Ellie Cannon wrote for Mail on Sunday in 2017.
There have been multiple reported incidents of patients suffering injury as a result of improper chiropractor care.
In 2019, an 80 year old retired bank manager in the UK died after a chiropractor broke his neck and caused ‘irreversible’ damage to his spine after a procedure gone wrong.
Jensen is slowly beginning to regain movement on the left side of her body after the first neck adjustment she received changed her life.
Darlene said they are working on getting the recent graduate out of hospital and into rehab at Shepherd Center in Atlanta.
The family refused to confirm the name of the chiropractor, saying it was irrelevant and could’ve happened under anyone’s care. Since Caitlin’s ordeal, Darlene has received messages from multiple people who experienced similar situations.
‘It turns out that it’s not actually as rare as it sounds like it would be,’ she said. ‘Its not like she went to some strange off the beaten path thing, it was a conventional therapy, the insurance covers treatments, so you’d assume that it must be a safe thing to do.’
Inside Edition obtained a video of Harpham from a local news channel discussing his career and family history with the profession. His grandfather, uncle, and younger brother are all also chiropractors.
‘Very fortunate to be a third generation chiropractor,’ Harpham said.
Chiropractor Dr. Robert Pomahac told Inside Edition that accidents like Caitlin’s are rare.
Pomahac didn’t treat Caitlin but explained the unlikeliness of this occurring.
‘It’s about 1 out of 100,000. So very, very uncommon. I’ve probably given 300,000 adjustments in the 20 years of practice, and I’ve never had this situation occur,” Pomahac said.
Darlene advised that people stay away from neck adjustments to avoid the same potential outcome.
‘This can happen with any chiropractor,’ she said.
Darlene told WSB-TV: ‘The surgeon that saved her life, and every other doctor that has looked at her, have all agreed that this happened as a direct result of the neck manipulation.’
She added: ‘The chiropractor called 911 and then called me and told me that she was ‘having a reaction to the treatment.’
Jensen’s brother, Caleb, added: ‘You’re talking to her and then 30 minutes later, she’s in the hospital and now in the ICU.’
He said his sister is ‘able to open her eyes every now and then and wake up a little bit. And kind of move her hands to squeeze a little. But that’s it.’
Despite Jensen regaining slight movement, the specialists she’s now receiving care from say it’s too soon for surgery.
‘Her neuro team believes it is still too risky to intervene surgically,’ Darlene wrote in an online CaringBridge journal on July 14. ‘Perhaps in 6 months or so, they may be able to go back in and place a couple more stents’
For now, the recent Georgia Southern University graduate is beginning to regain some movement in her left leg and hand, while occasionally giving a left smile and expressing emotions through her eyes – after bursting four neck arteries following her chiropractor visit.
‘She’s in good spirits,’ Darlene said. ‘She can’t speak or anything. Her mouth won’t fully open, but she’s also still on a ventilator so she cannot see – but it doesn’t seem like she’s in serious distress by any means. She’s handling it pretty well, I think all things considered.’
GoFundMe organizer Linda Foster has tracked Jensen’s progress over the last month in a series of posts on the fundraising web site.
‘She was so excited about all the career opportunities and possibilities on her horizon. Then on Thursday, June 16, 2022, Caitlin Jensen went to the chiropractor.’
‘After an adjustment to her neck, Caitlin became ill and was rushed to the ER by ambulance. Once there tests revealed four dissected arteries in her neck.
‘This damage led to cardiac arrest and a stroke, as well as a loss of pulse for over 10 minutes after which she was revived.
‘Once the doctors were able to stabilize Caitlin, she was rushed to surgery. Doctors were able to repair some tears and placed a stent in one artery.
‘Caitlin now lays in the neuro ICU in Memorial Hospital in Savannah, GA. She is in critical condition, and this trauma has resulted in a traumatic brain injury.
‘Caitlin is currently conscious and able to respond to verbal commands by blinking her eyes, as well as wiggling her the toes of her left foot. However, the rest of her body sits in a state of paralysis due to the injury.
‘Caitlin has a long road to recovery, and as a college student who has a very simple health care plan, she will need significant financial resources to get her through this road to recovery.’
She added: ‘We ask that you please flood Caitlin with your prayers and positive energy and consider donating to this cause.’
GoFundMe organizer Linda Foster wrote: ‘Caitlin Jensen graduated from Georgia Southern University this May with a degree in chemistry and biology, ready to live the American dream’
Jensen’s mother, Darlene, shared a series of updates on the GoFundMe revealing her daughter’s progress as she battles her horrific injuries
Darlene, shared a series of updates on CaringBridge revealing her daughter’s progress as she battles her horrific injuries.
One of the first updates from June 18 read: ‘We’re still in the 72 hour most critical time frame, and Caitlin is still extremely critical and unstable.
‘Her MRI last night was not positive in the slightest. We know that we are in an uphill battle to save our precious girl, and we are doing everything we can.’
In the same post, Darlene shared Caitlin briefly opened her eyes and she is ‘100% certain that she SAW and HEARD’ her.
She also shared an exciting update on June 29, saying: ‘Caitlin’s face has gone wireless! YAY! Today she got her peg tube (for feeding) and lost the NG tube in her nose. I’m sure it feels better.
‘The procedure went without incident and we are relieved to have that completed. They’ll start multiple meds up in the morning to continue the goal of keeping the stent clear of clots.
‘Tomorrow will be two weeks since the day we almost lost her. It’s truly remarkable that she is alive. I am shaken to the depth of my being by this experience.
‘When I look at my baby girl laying there…and she has the ability to look back at me…to see life in her eyes…to touch her and talk to her…she’s ALIVE. Hallelujah.
‘When I arrived at 6 a.m. today, she was awake and alert. She has a strong hand squeeze, and is still working hard at wiggling her toes on her left.
‘She also did something new – she can give the tiniest of nods with her head. It would be easy to miss, but I swear – I saw her nod her head in answer to me today. We are still trying everything we can to get her into Shepherd.
‘We’re having trouble with the insurance part of it, and we really need that part to work out. Thank you for all the love and prayers. Tomorrow isn’t promised, but today was a win.’
On July 2 she posted her daughter was ‘progressing with her movements on the left side’. She said she noticed her daughter opening her ‘eyes widely to show surprise, and the left corner of her mouth’ to try to smile.
She said: ‘Our favorite girl might be in the battle of her life, but she hasn’t lost her sense of humor. She gave her best effort to smile today, and it was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
‘She was smiling because I began to play one of our favorite podcasts, Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend. She heard the opening song and ‘smiled’, which made me laugh, which made her do it again. WIN.’
One of the first updates from June 18 read: ‘We’re still in the 72-hour most-critical timeframe, and Caitlin is still extremely critical and unstable’
Caitlin Jensen’s case is ‘incredibly rare’ and caused when inside wall of an artery tears, experts say
Caitlin Jensen’s case is ‘incredibly rare’ and caused when the inside wall of an artery tears, experts say.
Arterial dissections occur when blood works its way into the tear in the wall of an artery and separates its layers, according to UVA Health.
It creates a weak area which can cause life-threatening complications like the ones seen in Jensen’s case.
One Georgia chiropractor, who was not linked to the case, noted how ‘incredibly rare’ cases like hers are, with issues mostly producing ‘headache and neck pain.’
Dr. Steve Ranicki from Pooler said: ‘Once they’ve gone to the medical doctor or chiropractor the likelihood is, unfortunately, a stroke will occur.’
A few days later on July 7, Foster said Jensen was ‘having a rough week’ and asked visitors to not go to the hospital this week.
At the time, the 28-year-old was experiencing bleeding around the incision from the feeding tube in her stomach and had to get more stitches around it.
She was also suffering from low blood pressure and hay fever. Foster said: ‘Then that night someone mistakenly used a vibration belt on her chest for pneumonia) they were not supposed to be doing.
‘This pulled the stitches loose so surgery had to come back up during the night and stitch it again.’
Two days later, Darlene shared that her girl had started breathing on her own for over eight hours while even taking a nap.
‘We are over the moon about that,’ she wrote.
The next and last update on Caitlyn was posted two days ago on July 11.
‘Hello everyone… On Saturday when Caitlin’s blood levels started dropping, they stopped one of the anticoagulant meds,’ Darlene wrote.
‘They also gave her some medication to help reduce her stomach acid. Yesterday, her levels stabilized and have only dropped a little today. Because of this, we held off on the scope.’
‘When Caitlin’s blood levels started dropping, they stopped one of the anticoagulant meds. They also gave her some medication to help reduce her stomach acid.’
She added: ‘Yesterday, her levels stabilized and have only dropped a little today. Because of this, we held off on the scope.’
Jensen has now been in the hospital for 27 days, just two months after the college graduate finished her degree in biology and chemistry.
She had decided to head back to the classroom after working for a period of time in Alaska, Darlene shared in a Facebook post.
The GoFundMe page dedicated to Caitlin’s medical expenses has raised more than $46,000 with a goal of $100,000 to help with her treatment.
One Georgia chiropractor, who was not linked to the case, noted how ‘incredibly rare’ cases like Jensen’s are, with them mostly producing ‘headache and neck pain’.
But Dr. Steve Ranicki from Pooler said: ‘Once they’ve gone to the medical doctor or chiropractor the likelihood is, unfortunately, a stroke will occur.’