Cryotherapy could be new answer to rehabbing injuries

Amy Freeze reports on cryotherapy.
March 18, 2014 3:13:11 PM PDT
While most people are fed up with the cold temperatures, professional athletes and others are using therapy that exposes them to 280-degrees-below-zero temperatures to help improve their health.

In cryotherapy, patients are put in a chamber that fills with liquid nitrogren. The liquid nitrogen constricts the blood vessels, then when the treatment ends, a fresh supply of blood helps the healing process.

Steve Weatherford, a punter for the New York Giants, compared it to "a really intense air conditioner blowing on you.

"I've been here six days a week for the last three weeks and I'm really noticing a lot of benefits," he said.

During the therapy, Weatherford waits in the chamber for three minutes as the temperature dramatically drops. The treatment replaces an ice bath, which athletes like Weatherford traditionally have used in recovery.

The Northern New Jersey Pain & Rehabilitation Center has one of the first units in the Tri-State Area that is available to the public. "It's not traditionally used medically and that's why we are trying to pioneer," said Charles Sara, the center's executive director.

"The Knicks have one in their camp, used for recovery mostly for sports athletes. We are trying to research and publish the benefits of the average person," Sara said.

Being temporarily frozen doesn't hurt and one session can burn 600 calories -- without breaking a sweat.

Dr. Jeffery Fossati said that patients with brain or spinal injuries also have used the machine. "Since cavemen put ice on their shoulders, cold is what is needed to cure all types of injuries," said Fossati.

Weatherford said that since he started, he has seen immediate results. "He has cut down recovery times and increased workout time," said Sal Buscema, the president of Elite Total Body Cryotherapy.

Weatherford said he hopes the therapy will extend his career in the NFL.

More research on cryotherapy could prove that it helps with weight loss, surgery recovery, chronic pain and sleeping troubles.