Investigation into the recent death of Chelsea Ake-Salvacion in a liquid nitrogen cryotherapy chamber at RejuvenIce in Henderson NV points to oxygen deprivation as the cause of death. Ake-Salvacion was apparently alone in the facility after business hours. Her frozen body was found when the spa opened for business the next day.
In the wake of this tragic accident, authorities are calling for steps to regulate the use of cryotherapy, which has recently been gaining in popularity in the US. Use of cold for therapy, while not a new concept, is relatively recent in the US. Claims for the treatment’s benefits include pain reduction, recovery from injury, mood enhancement and even prevention and cure of such diseases as osteoporosis, asthma and arthritis. Sports teams in several cities have used the therapy for various reasons, including building strength.
CSA members were able to try this therapy at an ICEC/ICMC held in Poland in 2010. They were in the chamber for a very short period of time, just once. Proponents there said patients would need at least three sessions to see any effects. The exposure was carefully supervised and the participants were screened for any pre-existing health problems that would make the treatment unsafe. No adverse reactions occurred.
Cryogenic engineers and other professionals have long known the danger of oxygen deprivation when in contact with liquid nitrogen. Facilities using liquid nitrogen have oxygen monitors set up nearby and warning signs posted. Employees in the national labs, for example, are trained in safety precautions when in a liquid nitrogen usage area. Signs are attached to liquid nitrogen food freezers and safety procedures are included in operating manuals. Further, the danger of frostbite and other physical freezing injury is also taken very seriously.
Willamette Week has more on this topic.