Monday, January 9, 2012

Basketball Player Involuntarily Demonstrates Texas’ Cryotherapy Potential

Basketball player Manny Harris gets Cryogenic therapy from
US made Cryon-X machine.
I watched Manny Harris play his rookie season as a professional basketball player last year and thought he was decent.  Not exactly star material, but could definitely develop over a few years into a solid NBA player.  He had a smooth stroke, pretty decent hops, couldn’t really play defense (Although who does anymore?) and was a tad bit undersized to deal with the grind at the Pro level. The Cleveland Cavaliers recently decided to part ways with Manny and sign someone else to round out the bottom of their roster.  Harris will most likely bounce back with another team, and most experts usually frame getting cut as a learning lesson for young athletes.
 The reason why he was cut, however, is not exactly a lesson he could have prepared for, in any reasonable way.
Apparently, Harris has been slow to recover from a severe burn on his foot he received in Cleveland’s brand new cryogenic chamber.  Darren Rovell from CNBC.com explains:
In November, Cleveland Cavaliers guard Manny Harris got into a Cryon-X machine on Nike's campus in Beaverton, Ore. When he came out, he had a nasty freezer burn on the side of his right foot…
The machine is the new age version of an ice bath and is the latest in athlete recovery methods. In just three minutes, the company that makes it, Millennium ICE, says the machine cranks the temperature inside to minus 166 degrees Fahrenheit, thus oxygenating the blood, helping to reduce fatigue and muscle soreness. 
But the waiver that each athlete has to sign before getting into the stand-up tank specifically says that the briefs and socks that are worn while in the machine cannot be wet. Sources told CNBC that Harris got in with wet socks, which resulted in the freezer-type burn. It's not the first time this has happened. Sprinter Justin Gatlin also got in with the socks he had just worked out in when he entered the Cryon-X machine at ESPN's Wide World of Sports in Orlando.”
                        -Darren Rovell, CNBC.com, Yahoo!Sports The PostGame
Ow.
 I mean, when I was a kid I fell into an icy puddle in January and ran back inside howling in pain as I felt my legs being jabbed with what must have been a thousand needles.  Poor Manny Harris wore wet socks in temperatures one hundred times colder than a puddle in winter.  At that point, it’s like you don’t know where the sock ends and your flesh begins.  Like one big merged clump of fabric and skin meshed togeth- okay, I’ll stop with the grossness.  Just watch what happens to Jeff Goldblum in the last scene of The Fly.  You’ll get the idea.

Freak accidents with wet socks aside, technology like the Cryon-X is being used more and more in pro-sports. That’s because of a new method called “whole body cryotherapy” clinics are now developing.  The method involves immersing a person’s whole body in a chamber cooled with liquid nitrogen at temperatures around -120 C (-220 F) for a quick three minutes; any longer and the cryogenic chamber turns into a human icicle machine.  Cryotherapy specialists claim the effect causes the body to work a number of mechanisms in chemical release that boosts the immune system, oxygenates the blood and speeds up fatigue recovery.  So far, the pro sporting world is buying into the hype: the Dallas Mavericks apparently used cryotherapy last season when they won the championship, as well as rugby players preparing for the World Cup. 

Texas seems to be a favorite location of cryotherapy believers, as several labs and clinics who deliver the process are located there.  Cryo-USA is a new company based out of Texas Sports Medicine in Dallas and seem to focus mainly on athlete recovery.  Perhaps the most interesting story of development comes out of Cryo-Studio in Austin, founded by former Soviet track coach Galina Bukharina.  After coaching at Texas State University, Bukharina, who was a fan of cryotherapy even when she was coaching the USSR national team, opened Cryo-Studio with her children in April of 2011.  She’s been working with athletes since and she believes enough in cryogenics as physical therapy to make it her later-life legacy.

So what does the future hold?  The science is very new but if it holds up, the broad application of cryogenic hardware could be very promising and lucrative.  Cryotherapy chambers could come in handy anywhere fast recovery is necessary, not just in pro sports, but in the military, construction, firefighting, law enforcement and occasional baby-sitting job (because some children are literally going to drain your life energy; this should be taken as fact).  The demand for keeping up with today’s fast-paced work schedule could pose the kind of opportunity for this kind of technology to be produced on a large-scale.

And it’s all thanks to Manny Harris forgetting to change his socks.  Even if his career in hoops only lasts as long as Clay Aiken’s in American Idol-ing,  that’s an accomplishment to hang your  hat/footwear on.
                    

Donal Thoms-Cappello is a freelance writer for Rotor Clip Company.

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