Emergency room doctors conducted a case study of a Tough Mudder obstacle run in Philadelphia this past June and found that of the 38 people admitted that weekend, about half suffered electrical injuries. The patients ranged in age from 18 to 46 years old, with 22 men and 16 women.
In the study, the authors describe 5 patients in detail. The first was an 18-year-old man, said he received 13 electrical shocks during the last obstacle, Electroshock Therapy, which involves participants running through live wires that offer up to 10,000 volts of zap. He was diagnosed with an inflamed heart muscle. “His scan was similar in response to what you’d see in a heart attack,” Greenberg says.
The second patient, a 28-year-old man, “sustained multiple electrical shocks to the head while running through the water.” The third patient, a 31-year-old man, had possible seizure activity at the event, and was diagnosed with Todd’s paralysis. “Subsequent MRI was significant for a moderate-sized left-sided middle cerebral artery stroke and a small-sized left-sided posterior cerebral artery stroke,” the authors write. Six weeks later, he still had “residual right lower extremity deficit.” The fourth patient, a 41-year-old man, lost consciousness during the last obstacle, when two electric chords struck him in the head. He fell face-first into a hard mound of dirt, sustained face and head injuries, and was discharged from the hospital against medical advice.
After finishing the final obstacle, runners are handed a cup of Dos Equis beer (Dos Equis is a Tough Mudder sponsor). Many chug it in celebration. The problem for the study’s fifth patient: she had just been shocked on the right side of the chest, and was dehydrated. She spent a night in the hospital. “The right answer is ‘come over here, we’ll get you some help,’” says Greenberg. “Not ‘here, have a beer.’”
Greenberg hopes that Tough Mudder ditches the electric shocks. “A reasonable, prudent person would choose not to participate in that obstacle,” says Greenberg.
(For what it’s worth: I profiled Tough Mudder earlier this year, and participated in the event for the story. The race is a fun adrenaline rush. I went through both electric obstacles, reluctantly. If this paper had come out before that story, I can say, with much confidence, that I would have skipped the electric obstacles. I highly doubt I’ll ever do it again.)
Tough Mudder declined to comment on the study. Some 22,000 people participated in the Pennsylvania event: 0.17% of them wound up in that emergency room. Over 700,000 people will have taken part in a Tough Mudder this year.
The company suffered its first fatality in April: the incident was ruled an accidental drowning. Ernst & Young just gave Will Dean, founder and CEO of Tough Mudder, its 2013 National Entrepreneur of the Year award.
I myself ran the Boston Tough Mudder course this past year and wasn’t injured during the electroshock therapy portion of the race. Post your thoughts and opinion below.
via Daily Mail