Woman uses foot massage machine on her shoulders with tragic consequences

foot massage machine tragedy
Slash Gear

If you decide to splash out on a particular type of foot massage machine anytime soon, be sure to use it only on your feet and keep it well away from all other parts of your body.

An elderly woman in Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido paid with her life last week when she apparently tried to use a foot massager to relieve tension in her neck and shoulders.

It’s thought that the 77-year-old Japanese woman suffocated when her clothes became caught in the machine’s electric-powered rollers, which were exposed as the device’s cover had at some point been removed. Her relatives found her lying unconscious on the floor of her home but she died a short while later, the Mainichi Shimbun reported.

foot massage machine tragedy massager
Hokkaido Police
Hokkaido Police

Made by Saitama-based Matoba, the massage machine has been in the news before for all the wrong reasons. Three separate fatal accidents similar to last week’s tragedy were reported back in 2008, prompting the firm to accompany its product with a note warning owners not to remove the cover, and to use it with feet only.

But the device hit the headlines again three years ago when yet another person in Japan died after apparently having used it incorrectly.

The warnings are evidently failing to deter some people from removing the cover and applying the machine to their neck and shoulders, a particularly dangerous act as it appears the foot massager has no mechanism to make it automatically stop should fabrics or other items become entangled in the rollers.

Gadget disasters

Serious accidents involving gadgets are thankfully rare, but from time to time they do hit the headlines. A London man, for example, was fatally electrocuted in 2016 after attempting to charge his smartphone while taking a bath, and in 2015 a South Korean woman had a scary run-in with a robot vacuum.

She had fallen asleep on the floor when her autonomous vacuum trundled over and tried to sweep her up. Unfortunately for the woman, her long hair got caught up in the machine’s rotating brushes, resulting in a rude awakening that led to a “desperate rescue request” to first responders, who arrived in time to free her from the machine’s clutches before any serious injury occurred.