Printer Friendly Email a Friend PDF RSS Feed

Dynamic Chiropractic – June 3, 2004, Vol. 22, Issue 12

Shark Attack

By Daniel Batchelor, DC
This was the first time in 24 years that I had ever treated anyone for injuries sustained as a result of a shark attack. (I had previously treated one man who injured his back as a result of being struck by lightning. The violent electrical discharge tightened up every muscle in his body and caused severe muscle spasm, strains and injuries throughout his entire body.) Lonnie entered my clinic complaining of lower back and right calf pain that occurred as a result of a shark attack he had suffered recently while surfing off the coast of Daytona Beach, Florida.

He had been resting several hundred yards offshore, hanging onto his long surfboard with his feet dangling and only his arms and upper torso on the board, when he felt a terrific sudden and severe pain in his right calf. Startled and shocked, he tried to quickly pull himself up onto the surfboard. As he did so, the shark began to twist and shake, tryng to rip away the flesh. Lonnie stated that the weight of the shark was very heavy and that he had to exert great effort to free himself of the bite. As a life-preserving protective mechanism, Lonnie rapidly jerked himself up onto his board with all his might. As he did so, he felt what he explained as "razor blades cutting through my flesh from the top of my calf to the bottom of my calf." He also said, "Whether I actually freed myself of the shark - or whether the shark loosened his grip on me - I will never know, but I am glad I am here to actually talk about it."

Lonnie immediately began to bleed severely, and he tried to get to shore as quickly as possible. He was taken to Daytona Beach Hospital, where he was treated for the bite and released the next day.

In addition to his calf injury, Lonnie noticed that he had extremely severe lower back pain. The pain would begin at his lower back and radiate down his right leg to his right foot. Evidently, as the rotation occurred to Lonnie's lumbar spine as he tried to free himself from the shark's grip, traction was also being placed upon his lower back by the shark. Rotation of the lumbar vertebrae occurred at the same time the traction was applied. As a result, there was a tremendous one-sided muscle contraction that caused the last vertebra in his lower back to misalign. The quick response and extreme effort may have saved Lonnie's life, but it injured his lower back.

X-rays of the patient's back revealed a rotational misalignment of the L5 vertebra. Manipulation was used to realign the vertebra, and Lonnie was on his way. This condition was not a chronic one, so the response to treatment was very rapid. After the first treatment, he no longer had the lower back pain or radiating pain down his leg.

When I examined Lonnie's calf, it appeared as though 35-50 tiny razor blades had sliced the back of his calf from top to bottom. There were several areas where deep scar tissue could be palpated, all the way from the back of his lower knee to his Achilles tendon.

The odds are that the shark was not trying to attack Lonnie. It either released him after it got a taste of human flesh, or Lonnie broke himself free of the shark. We will never know. If the shark really wanted to eat Lonnie, I am sure it would have, and with little difficulty. Sharks are very efficient "killing machines."

For the treatment of the scar tissue that had formed on Lonnie's calf muscle, I used iontophoresis, deep massage, and specific stretches to try and break up the inelastic fibrotic tissue. In addition, the patient was instructed to use the bicycle for at least 30 minutes per day to help rehabilitate the injury until close-to-normal flexibility of his right calf returned.

Lonnie has always been and will always be a runner. His goal is to run pain-free, and if he follows the rehab program, pain-free running will result. And what about his next surfing endeavor? For now, he has decided to stick to skateboarding on concrete instead. Even without a helmet and wrist guards, it's much safer, he says.

For your information, tourists wanting to avoid shark attacks should consider steering clear of surfing in Australia or swimming in Florida, according to researchers. The International Shark Attack File, compiled by the University of Florida, suggests that tourists' increasing taste for exotic locations and swimming in warm waters have contributed to a record year for shark attacks.

Incidentally, according to researchers, the odds of being struck by lightning are 1 in 600,000; getting injured in an elevator ride: one in 6 million; dying in an earthquake: one in 11 million; dying from a snake bite: one in 36 million; and being attacked by a shark: one in 60 million.

See you at the beach :)

Daniel Batchelor, DC
Roswell, Georgia

Click here for previous articles by Daniel Batchelor, DC.

Join the conversation
Comments are encouraged, but you must follow our User Agreement
Keep it civil and stay on topic. No profanity, vulgar, racist or hateful comments or personal attacks. Anyone who chooses to exercise poor judgement will be blocked. By posting your comment, you agree to allow MPA Media the right to republish your name and comment in additional MPA Media publications without any notification or payment.

To report inappropriate ads, click here.