Cryotherapy is the newest health craze. Companies offering the service have sprouted up all over in the last couple years — so if you haven’t heard about it yet, you will soon.
Cryotherapy involves stepping into a chamber that blasts your body with nitrogen gas. The super-cold gas drops the interior of the open chamber to under -200 degrees Fahrenheit. People using the treatment only stay in the chamber a couple minutes — long enough for the surface of their skin to cool about 20 degrees.
The goal is to provoke the patient’s body into an adrenal response, triggering natural anti-inflammatory properties within the body itself into action. Supposedly, the benefits of the whole-body immersion and adrenal response include things like relaxed muscles, improved healing after workouts and help with chronic pain from arthritis and other disorders. It’s also supposed to help the body rid itself of toxins and make the skin produce more collagen.
But is it safe? It’s hard to say. Anything that extreme is likely to cause an injury down the line to someone. There’s always the possibility that the shock of the cold is too much for someone. Someone could also accidentally receive too much nitrogen if the machine malfunctions. There are probably a lot of different ways that someone could end up seriously injured.
Unfortunately, anybody who is injured in one of these devices may have difficulty collecting through a personal injury lawsuit. While not impossible, a victim’s ability to sue may depend on exactly what caused the injury, what waivers were in place and what assumption of risk the court assigns to the victim.
Assumption of risk is a legal defense to an injury lawsuit. It essentially says that when people knowingly engage in a dangerous activity, they automatically assume some of the risks of injury. That’s why hockey players can’t sue for every tooth that gets knocked loose during a game.
However, it isn’t an absolute defense. A person can’t knowingly assume any risk if he or she is told the procedure is perfectly safe. In addition, if a safety feature on the machine malfunctions (or is missing), that’s not an anticipated risk the victim is expected to bear.
Ultimately, if you’re injured in a cryotherapy session, don’t guess about your right to recover your damages. An attorney can tell you more about your legal options.
Source: FindLaw, “Assumption of Risk Defense,” accessed March 16, 2018