Woman allegedly burned in a chamber at CryoWorks facility in Berkley files lawsuit
Berkley — A 48-year-old Macomb County woman allegedly suffered first- and second-degree burns while in a nitrogen gas-filled cryogenic chamber designed to improve fitness and treat injuries, according to an Oakland Circuit Court lawsuit.
Tracy Marzec, a licensed physical therapy assistant, and her co-workers were invited to the CryoWorks Michigan facility on Woodward in Berkley in August to experience a three-minute cryotherapy session, according to the complaint.
Similar businesses have popped up elsewhere in Metro Detroit in the past year. Those who have experienced the process claim it leaves them feeling refreshed or invigorated, but is considered a non-medical wellness modality and is not a recognized medical specialty.
“They (CryoWorks) were attempting to drum up business — referrals,” Marzec’s attorney, Craig Weber, explained of her visit. “Instead, for still unknown reasons, things went horribly wrong.”
Weber said that in the visit, Marzec undressed down to her undergarments and was given a towel and some boots and led into a cryotherapy chamber, an enclosed compartment about the size of an telephone booth.
“She complained to the technician that she was experiencing some discomfort in her hands and right hip,” Weber said. “She said her hip felt like a block of solid ice and her hands felt like they are being stuck with hundreds of sharp needles.”
Marzec was assured that it was all normal and she would be fine, Weber said.
“But after she left, parts of her body became progressively more painful and red,” he said. “She went to work but left and went home early. When her hands, arm and leg continued to hurt and blister, her husband drove her to a hospital.”
Marzec was treated for first- and second-degree burns on her hands, right forearm and upper underarm, abdomen, right buttocks and hip, right flank and torso.
On its website and in promotional materials, CryoWorks, which advertises sessions for $27, describes how a patient stands and slowly turns in the chamber while it fills with a non-dangerous nitrogen gas, rapidly lowering the skin surface temperature to about 32 degrees. A cryosauna temperature ranges between minus 238 degrees F to minus 274 degrees F during the treatment.
Weber said he was not aware if Marzec’s co-workers encountered any problems in their visit. He was awaiting discovery from CryoWorks and he has been unable to conclude whether the alleged fault lies with the equipment, the process, or an employee not being properly trained to run the chamber.
“To me it is an unlicensed activity in the same standing that chiropractic medicine had years ago before it was ever accepted,” Weber said. “We want to get to the bottom of this so what happened to my client doesn’t happen to someone else.”
CryoWorks is next door to a tattoo parlor and across a Woodward side street from the popular Vinsetta Garage restaurant.
Two men at CryoWorks who identified themselves as co-owners declined comment Wednesday but one of them, Eric Spector, later issued the following statement:
“We at CryoWorks are sympathetic for any injury Ms. Marzec may have suffered at our facility. We have turned her claim over to our insurance carrier and have reached out to her and expressed our sympathy for any injury which she may have sustained.
“ ... After being in business for approximately a month, we encountered an issue with our Cryotherapy Chamber. We had an isolated calibration issue directly related to an equipment change and machine compatibility. We were assured by the manufacturer that there would be no issues but unfortunately this was not the case. Since this incident involving Ms. Marzec, we immediately addressed, resolved and insured this will not happen again.
“Since the incident with Ms. Marzec, we have conducted hundreds of Cryotherapy sessions with customers, staff and owners with no issues and have a 100 percent safety record. Most of our customers are repeat customers, including professional athletes who understand the benefits of Cryotherapy and how it helps them.”
The lawsuit, which seeks in excess of $25,000 in damages, is assigned to Judge Hala Jarbou.