Massage device recalled after strangling user

A week after the FDA issued a warning on the Shoulderflex therapeutic massager because it killed one person and injured a few more, device maker voluntarily recalls device.

Let's all be thankful that the pictured woman enjoying her Shoulderflex isn't wearing a necklace or much in the way of clothing, and also that her hair is tied neatly atop her head. It turns out that necklaces, clothing, and hair have the potential to turn that peaceful look on her face into something else entirely.

Shoulderflex

No, seriously. One person was strangled to death after her necklace became caught in the personal massager's rotating component, while another was almost killed when a piece of clothing was caught. Still more have been injured when their hair became entangled in the device.

In light of the death and injuries, the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning last week that the device posed serious health risks, and yesterday the manufacturer, King International, voluntarily recalled nearly all of its 12,000 Shoulderflex massagers in the U.S. sold between 2003 and 2011.

To be fair, the promotional demonstration of the massager advises users to keep hair and jewelry away from the rotating bar--an obvious caution reminiscent of the floor being slippery when wet.

The video did not, however, warn that failure to do so could result in death by strangulation. (The video appears to have been deleted from a variety of sources as the Beaverton, Ore.-based firm tries to extricate itself from the unraveling imbroglio. Calls to the company for comment, meanwhile, went straight to voice mail.)

If you've got a Shoulderflex on hand, the FDA implores you to throw it away.

About the author

Elizabeth Armstrong Moore is based in Portland, Oregon, and has written for Wired, The Christian Science Monitor, and public radio. Her semi-obscure hobbies include climbing, billiards, board games that take up a lot of space, and piano.

 

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