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Missouri State Freezes Cryotherapy Injury Findings

Paul Steinbach

Missouri State University has put the findings of its investigation into cryotherapy injuries on ice.

Suzanne Shaw, MSU's vice president of marketing and communications, told the Springfield News-Leader that details of the investigation into whole-body cryotherapy injuries to two men's basketball players are part of legal work created by MSU's general counsel, making those details exempt from release under Missouri's Sunshine Law. She added that the findings would never be made public.

On Jan. 22, Kombat Cross Training owner King Owens brought a full-body cryotherapy machine to JQH Arena. While using the machine designed to speed muscle recovery by immersing the body in air supercooled with liquid nitrogen, MSU basketball players Reggie Scurry and Abdul Fofana developed blisters on their feet that kept them sidelined for the remainder of the season. Scurry has since transferred to Middle Tennessee.

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Owens told the News-Leader Thursday that no one from MSU contacted him regarding an investigation. The paper first reported Jan. 25 that the Food and Drug Administration and others have questioned the efficacy of whole-body cryotherapy, citing a lack of scientific evidence. A day later, the university announced it would investigate the Scurry and Fofana incident. Owens claims it was the first incident of its kind in his personal history of facilitating the therapy 200 to 300 times.

On the day in question, the entire MSU men's basketball team and eight women's team members received cryotherapy treatment. Scurry and Fofana were only inside the equipment for a minute before complaining about tingling in their feet, according to Owens. Scurry said his feet were only in the chamber five seconds before he knew something wasn't right, and that he estimated he was 20 seconds away from losing his toes. His feet frozen, the pain didn't set in until five minutes later. He added in April that his feet were only 80 percent back to normal and that he might sit out the 2018-19 season. “I went through the worst pain in my life. Literally the worst," Scurry said, as reported by the Times-Leader. "I don’t think you understand the pain I went through with my feet."

While within its rights to keep the investigation findings secret, the university may have a moral obligation to release its findings, according to Jean Maneke, an attorney for the Missouri Press Association. "The university does have to deal with the fact that parents entrust their kids to the university," Maneke told the Times-Leader. "The university depends on pulling in students. Parents of students will look at the perception of whether students are safe on campus or not."

Paul Lusk was fired as men's basketball coach after the 2017-18 season, but not because of the cryotherapy incident, according to athletic director Kyle Moats, who said in January that whole-body cryotherapy equipment would not be brought into the arena again. New coach Dana Ford concurred this week. 

 

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