United Kingdom

Physiotherapist who paralysed an RAF contractor is struck off 

A physiotherapist who left a former air force contractor paralysed after performing an intense 'manipulation' treatment to his neck has been thrown out of the profession.

Jason Davidson will spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair after suffering an injury and seeking treatment from self-employed William Cooper.

Cooper, who practised in Brackley at the time, performed the thoracic spine manipulation on Davidson after he complained of 'acute' upper neck and shoulder pain on 7 December 2016.

Cooper suggested the 'vigorous treatment' would be appropriate after Mr Davidson told him he had lifted a heavy item at work that weighed approximately 11.5kgs.

The former US Air Force serviceman who was working as an RAF contractor in Northamptonshire at the time later sued Cooper for negligence.

Former US Air Force serviceman Jason Davidson (pictured) will spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair after suffering an injury and seeking treatment from self-employed William Cooper

When Mr Davidson tried to get up from the treatment couch he felt paralysis rise up his legs into his trunk and was unable to breath, the Health and Care Professions Council heard.

The patient dialled 999 and was rushed to hospital where doctors found a severe acute injury to spinal discs which had caused blood flow to the spinal cord to cease, and operated on Mr Davidson that afternoon.

The HCPC ruled the intense spine manipulation carried out after Mr Davidson had told Cooper 'that he experienced pain and electric shock-type sensations' amounted to misconduct.

The panel said: 'The patient's right leg remained in spasm while he became unable to move his left leg.

'Very soon he was unable to control either leg and he felt paralysis rise up his legs into his trunk.

'Almost immediately he could not feel his abdomen, lost his balance and had a sensation that he was unable to breathe.

Physiotherapy: What are the benefits and risks? 

Benefits: 

- Reduces or eliminates pain .

- Can help restore movement and function when someone is affected by injury, illness or disability.

- Eliminates the need for surgery in some cases.

- It can reduce the risk of injury or illness in the future or prevent further injury. 

Risks

- Risks will vary based on the technique used and patient's unique circumstances. 

- Also depends on the area of the body being treated 

'An emergency '999' call was made, Paramedics attended, and Mr Cooper was transported to hospital.

'At the hospital an MRI scan was undertaken, and it was discovered that there was herniation at C6/7 with acute cord compression.

'Later that evening emergency surgery was undertaken when cervical decompression and fusion were undertaken.'

The tribunal heard the patient was 'very clear in his recollection of events' and insisted he had called an ambulance.

In determining their decision, the HCPC said: 'The panel's conclusion that the registrant's fitness to practise is currently impaired by reason of the misconduct.

The watchdog noted Cooper did not offer the patient any 'alternative treatment options' and went straight for the most intense and 'inappropriate' form of treatment for the circumstances.

The panel said: It was inappropriate to perform a thoracic spine manipulation at Grade 5 against this background.

'It would be wholly inappropriate to take no further action or to impose a caution order.'

Cooper was struck off from the profession and will no longer practice as a registered physiotherapist.

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