On November 26, 2020, professional MMA fighter Athena Martinez was badly hurt in a cryotherapy chamber in Syndey, Australia. She suffered severe burns on her legs resulting in large frostbite-type blisters. Her injury required immediate surgery and skin grafts, all documented on her social media and picked up by news outlets worldwide. It is the worst injury made public after the fatal injury suffered in 2015 in Las Vegas. The cryotherapy industry will suffer another setback. It is only a matter of time.
Was CryoMed To Blame For The Athlete Hurt in the Cryotherapy Chamber?
No. CryoMed as a manufacturer is unlikely at fault, but someone was hurt in their cryotherapy chamber. Whenever someone suffers an injury in a cryotherapy chamber the brand of chamber unfortunately receives the blame. All chambers we review are safe to operate, although some have more features than others. The problem is either with the operator acting negligently or the system itself failed, which itself is rare. According to Australian news sources Martinez was provided a six-minute session (i.e., two sessions of three minutes back-to-back).
After Athena Martinez was hurt in the cryotherapy chamber she stated publicly on her Instagram that she was neither told she was receiving a double session nor aware that it was happening. But Martinez is not new to cryotherapy and has used cryo many times according to her trainer and people familiar with the matter. Could a “double session” have even happened? Not according to the manufacturer. The CryoMed has an electric lift that automatically lowers at the end of the 3 minute session. Anyone in a cryosauna would know if the lift was operating. If the double session occurred the lift would lower, stop, and then rise again before the second session began.
Was The Operator To Blame For The Athlete Hurt in the Cryotherapy Chamber?
Why she was unintentionally hurt in a cryotherapy chamber is being debated. It appears the operator was improperly trained or neglected the training provided. 3 minutes in a nitrogen chamber is the industry standard. From our preliminary investigation it appears the operator ran two sessions while Martinez was aware of that fact. But operators can only work on the training they have received. Companies must train their staff rigorously and educate them on why the training matters. Too often we have reviewed training products and found them too simple. This creates a lazy attitude towards cryotherapy and ignores the dangers cryo can present. This event is all the more reason to train your staff well, and train them yourself.
How Dangerous Is Cryotherapy?
Just like any treatment of the human body cryotherapy poses dangers if people ignore proper safety protocols. But the incidence of injury from cryotherapy is much lower than many people think. More injuries happen from treadmills, bicycles, and even tanning beds when people are using them appropriately. Unfortunately cryotherapy receives more attention simply because it is an exotic and sometimes controversial therapy and many people are unaware of how it actually works.
How You Can Talk To Customers About It
This event has been receiving less attention than the Las Vegas death in 2015 of Chelsea Ake-Salvacion, but the attention it is receiving is not good. Some manufacturers and reps of electric chambers have used this as marketing fodder, which we do not support. If your customers ask about what happened tell them the truth. Use it as an opportunity to explain why sessions in nitro chambers are 3 minutes maximum. Explain that events like this remind us about why a customer’s skin must be dry and they must wear gloves and slippers. Here are some potential talking points:
- Yes, that happened, but that is exactly why we always make sure you are dry and that you wear the right PPE. We want to keep you safe.
- Unfortunately someone was injured, but it only happened because they didn’t follow the rules.
- This is why we always ask you if you are dry and if you are healthy. Cryotherapy is a serious therapy, and we want you to be totally safe.
Since 2015 our industry has suffered a fatality, a very public injury with Antonio Brown, and now this severe injury to Ms. Martinez’ legs. Be honest with your customers about what is happening, but also assure them that you are doing your best to keep them as safe as possible.