Cryotherapy Safety Investigation Launched By Nevada After Worker Death

Nevada officials are investigating the full-body cryotherapy industry, after one salon was shut down following the death of a worker, who is believed to have frozen to death in a booth cooled to extremely low temperatures by liquid nitrogen. 

The Nevada Division of Industrial Relations will investigate three companies operating cryotherapy businesses in the state. The investigation comes after the state shut down one of the businesses following the death of a worker.

Chelsea Patricia Ake-Salvacion, 24, was found dead late last month in a cryotherapy chamber at a facility run by Rejuvenice LLC just outside of Las Vegas. The state shut the facility down when it could not prove that it had worker’s compensation insurance.

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State officials and others have now raised concerns whether full-body or whole-body cryotherapy itself is inherently dangerous.

Whole-body cryotherapy is an alternative medical technique that allegedly increases blood flow, healing, and provides other benefits that are generally unproven. It involves putting the person in a chamber that covers the body from the neck down, exposing them to temperatures approaching -300 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s about roughly the surface temperature of Europa, the ice moon of Jupiter.

Ake-Salvacion, a worker at the facility, appeared to have been using the chamber for personal use and froze to death, Nevada officials have determined.

The treatments are so new, having come over from Eastern Europe just two years ago, that the state at first had to decide which department should handle the investigation.

While cryotherapy has been in use in the U.S. on a much smaller scale, the practice has still invoked controversy and concerns.

Cold therapy, a form of cryotherapy, focuses on cooling specific injured parts of the body using cold packs and specialized machines.

Cold therapy restricts bloodflow to the injured area, slows down nerve impulses that tell you that you are in pain and also works as distraction pain, pulling the mind’s focus away from the injury to the sensation of cold. However, there have been a number of reports involving problems with cold therapy, where the machines have caused frostbite, skin damage, nerve damage, and a risk of limb amputation.

In July 2012, a California jury awarded $5 million to a woman who suffered tissue damage to her leg after using a Polar Care Cold Therapy device.

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