Nevada Department of Public Health and other state regulatory officials are expanding an investigation into businesses that offer cryotherapy, and whether the practice poses risks to employees or their customers. The announcement comes just weeks after a Nevada woman who worked at a spa offering the service was found frozen to death in a cryotherapy chamber.
Full-body cryotherapy is a growing interest in the United States, billed as a treatment to reduce pain, speed recovery and improve mood. Some providers of the service claim the so-called therapy can prevent osteoporosis, treat asthma, improve sex drive, and speed weight loss. Cryotherapy chambers are shaped like cylinders that are padded on the inside and open at top. Patrons stand inside the machine with their heads popping out the top while the machine encases them in gas that registers minus 300 degrees.
Athletes like LeBron James and Shaquille O’Neal claim to have used the therapy and many say they have reaped the benefits promised by the manufacturers. But some say that they have suffered serious injuries.
One woman has filed a lawsuit claiming her arm froze during cryotherapy, resulting in third-degree burns, loss of use, and disfigurement. Olympic sprinter Justin Gatlin claims cryotherapy caused frostbite on his feet.
But it was Chelsea Ake-Salvacion’s death that brought national attention to cryotherapy, and raised serious questions about the safety of the machines. Ake-Salvacion, 24, worked at Rejuvenice, a clinic that offered cryotherapy. Her uncle says she was a proponent of the cold-gas treatment.
On Oct. 19, Ake-Salvacion entered a cryotherapy capsule at Rejuvenice alone, after hours. The next morning, coworkers found her frozen in the machine, tucked in fetal position with her cell phone nearby. The cause of death has not been determined, but the coroner said it was possible the young woman dropped her phone inside the chamber, reached down to grab it and became trapped in a space with too much nitrogen and not enough oxygen. She likely passed out and, eventually, froze to death.
Rejuvenice reopened shortly after Ake-Salvacion’s death, but was shut down a week later by the Nevada Division of Industrial Relations on a technicality – the lack of workers’ compensation insurance. The agency has since launched a review of industry practices alongside officials from the state health department.
Cryotherapy is typically not regulated, but news of cryotherapy-related injuries have raised concerns that perhaps the government should oversee the practice to prevent future injuries and deaths.
Source: NY Times