|McHuggins, shown here all messed up by a catastrophic reaction to an unprofessional application of Kinesio Tape|
"They think it's just harmless fun," physical therapist and Certified Kinesio Taping Practitioner Dirk LaGrange CKTP explained. "But large numbers of adolescents are putting their health at risk when they apply Kinesio Tape technology to themselves or their friends without proper training or supervision."
When Gundar McHuggins Jr., a 15-year-old sophomore at Lindon High, allowed a friend to carelessly apply hundreds of strips of the powerful tape to his extremities and torso, he only expected to experience few laughs. They even filmed the stunt for uploading to the YouTube. But instead of an afternoon of fun, the camera captured a young man's fight to survive.
McHuggins, once haphazardly covered in the tape, began to show signs of problems almost immediately according to expert analysis of the video by LaGrange. He pointed out that the signs can be subtle at first, but eventually even the untrained eye can pick up on more overt evidence of a dangerous reaction. "Right at about the 30-second mark you see Gundar begin to look fatigued and his respiration is slower, deeper, and more forceful. A few minutes later he's on the ground, violently seizing, and the lower part of his body is swollen almost beyond recognition."
According to experts like LaGrange, Kinesio Tape is far more than just fancy elastic athletic tape. Properly applied strips, which come in variety of vibrant colors, can support injured musculature and reduce fatigue. It can even improve lymphatic drainage and reduce inflammation. The first thing is good and the second is really, really bad. It works using the power of proprioception, a neuromuscular feedback system in the body, and helps injured muscles relax while at the same time encouraging healthy muscles to work harder. It's amazing!
When a professional applies the tape, exact placement is key to the widespread anecdotal reports of benefit. Strips must align perfectly with the targeted muscles and the direction of lymph flow. Improper placement can restrict muscle movement and impair drainage. McHuggins was nearly suffocated when he struggled to breath against the force of the Kinesio Tape strips scattered over his chest and back, and he suffered nearly complete lymph obstruction in his lower extremities, essentially an acute form of elephantiasis. Although he is now stable on a breathing machine, doctors say that he may require several operations to fully restore lymphatic flow and prevent chronic severe swelling of his legs and feet.
Gundar's mother is warning parents about the risk of Kinesio Tape. She believes that the tape should be kept out of the reach of small children and that families who keep it in the home should have frank discussions about its risks as well as a safety plan. "This is a medical tool and it has risk. It has the ability to improve the lives of millions, perhaps even billions of people, but used incorrectly it can ruin lives too."