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Cold Therapy Lawsuit


Cold therapy machines (also known as “ice therapy” or “cryotherapy”) consist of an ice-filled cooler that pumps freezing water into a compression pad, which is placed on an injured body part. They are mostly marketed to people following orthopedic surgery. Unfortunately, many people have been injured by nerve damage, skin damage, frostbite, disfigurement, chronic injuries, amputation, or required additional surgery.

$12.5 Million Award in Polar Care Cold Therapy Lawsuit

In August 2012, a jury in California determined that Dr. David Chao and Breg International were negligent for failing to warn about the dangers associated with the Polar Care 500 cold therapy machine. Plaintiff Whitney Engler filed her cold therapy lawsuit after she suffered devastating skin and nerve damage on her legs, which has caused permanent injuries despite multiple reconstructive surgeries. The jury awarded her $5 million in compensation for her injuries, and $7.5 million in punitive damages against Dr. Chao and Breg International. Click here to read more.

What is a Cold Therapy Machine?

Cold therapy, also known as “ice therapy” or “cryotherapy,” is a medical device that delivers hours of ice-cold temperatures to injured body parts. The machine consists of an insulated cooler that is filled with ice. As the ice melts, a machine pumps the freezing-cold water into a hose attached to a compression pad, which is specially designed to fit tightly around injured body parts.

Cold therapy machines are mostly marketed to people with sports injuries who have recently undergone orthopedic surgery in their arm, shoulder, knee, leg, ankle, or foot. The manufacturers claim that cold therapy machines are better than ice-packs for reducing pain, inflammation, and swelling. They also claim that cold therapy machines improve healing.

Types of Cold Therapy or Ice Therapy Machines

Some of the most popular brands of cold therapy and ice therapy machines include:

Problems with Cold Therapy Machines Include Skin and Nerve Damage

The problem with cold therapy machines is that they apply freezing-cold temperatures to injured body parts for many hours at a time, but they lack adequate instructions about the proper temperature and length of time that cold therapy is appropriate.

Furthermore, the compression pad is designed to restrict blood-flow to injured body parts and deaden nerves. Injured body parts may already have some nerve damage. Unfortunately, due to nerve desensitization, patients may fail to remove the compression pad when it gets too cold. Serious injuries can occur even above freezing temperatures. However, cold therapy machines do not have alarms or automatic shut-off switches to protect a patient when the machine gets too cold or is used for too long.

Types of Cold Therapy Machine Injuries

  • Skin necrosis (tissue death)
  • Nerve damage
  • Frostbite
  • Permanent skin, nerve, and tissue damage
  • Chronic pain, tingling, numbness, or sensitivity
  • Infection
  • Need for skin grafts or additional surgery
  • Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) Syndrome
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Amputation
  • Permanent disability


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