$12.5 Million Award in Cold Therapy Lawsuit
In August 2012, a jury in California awarded a woman $12.5 million for her cold therapy lawsuit, including $5 million in compensation and $7.5 million in punitive damages against Dr. David Chao and Breg International, maker of the Polar Care 500. Dr. Chao, head physician for the San Diego Chargers, prescribed the device to the 15 year-old plaintiff, but failed to warn her about its dangers. He also never told her that his company profited financially every time he prescribed it to patients. After using the cold therapy machine exactly as directed, she developed sever skin and nerve damage on her legs, causing permanent disfigurement despite multiple reconstructive surgeries.
What is Cold Therapy (Cryotherapy)?
Cold therapy, also known as “cryotherapy” or “ice therapy,” has become a popular medical device used in sports medicine. Cold therapy machines consist of a small cooler that a patient fills with ice, which is connected to a tube and compression-pad that a patient wraps around an injured body part. The machine pumps freezing-cold water through the tube and into the compression-pad, providing cold temperatures to an injured body part for up to 12 hours.
Popular Brands of Cold Therapy Machines
- Breg Inc. — BREG Polar Care
- DJO — DonJoy Iceman
- Coolsystems Inc. — Game Ready
- Aircase — Cryo/Cuff Cold Therapy Unit
- DeRoyal — Cold Therapy Unit
- EB Ice — Cold Therapy System
- Bledsoe — Cold Control and bMini
- And more
What is the problem?
Although the therapeutic benefit of cold therapy does not increase below 15ºC (59ºF), many cold therapy machines are designed to continuously apply near-freezing temperatures for 8-12 hours. This is a dangerously long amount of time to expose skin to such cold temperatures, but cold therapy machines are advertised for “continuous cold therapy.” In fact, most experts recommend checking your skin every 20-30 minutes for symptoms of frostbite, allowing the skin to warm up while deeper tissues stay cool, placing a towel between ice and the skin, and never using ice therapy while asleep.
Case Report of Frostbite from Cold Therapy
In 2007, Orthopedics published a case report, “Severe Frostbite of the Knees After Cryotherapy” (Warning: Graphic Content) describing the case of a 53 year-old man who had severe tissue necrosis and frostbite on both knees after using the Breg Polar Care 500 for several weeks.
Risks & Complications of Cold Therapy Machines
- Skin necrosis
- Nerve damage
- Tissue damage
- Chronic pain, tingling, numbness, or sensitivity
- Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) Syndrome
- Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
- Need for skin grafts
- Reconstructive surgery and cosmetic surgery
Do I have a Cold Therapy Class Action Lawsuit?
The Product Liability & Defective Medical Device Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in cold therapy lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new cases in all 50 states.
Free Cold Therapy Class Action Lawsuit Evaluation: Again, if you or a loved one was injured by a cold therapy machine, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by joining a cold therapy class action lawsuit or by filing a personal injury lawsuit and we can help.