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Deadly shoulder massager relaxes, strangles

The ShoulderFlex massager was recalled this summer following the death of one woman, but it is still available for sale at some online sites.

If you think you’ve found the perfect gift for Grandma, and it happens to be a ShoulderFlex massager, buy her something else quick. It turns out to be a device that can lull users into a relaxed state -- and then strangle them.

The Food and Drug Administration issued an alert on Wednesday warning that hair and necklaces can get caught in the massager and cause strangulation. One person has died and another nearly did, according to the FDA.

Dr. Michelle Ferrari-Gegerson, a 37-year-old Florida woman, was found dead by her husband last Christmas Eve after her leather necklace got tangled in the device, reported the Miami Herald.

“The ShoulderFlex Massager poses serious risks,” said Steve Silverman, director of the Office of Compliance in the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, in a statement. “Consumers should stop using this device, health care providers should not recommend it to their patients and businesses should stop distributing and selling the device.”

The device was recalled in August, but the manufacturer, King International, went out of business and the FDA discovered that it didn’t properly alert stores that sell the massager. A quick Internet search reveals that the product is still available at several online web sites.

The FDA is so concerned about the device that it recommends not just throwing it away, but dismantling it before you do so that no one else could ever use it. “The massage fingers should be removed and disposed of separately from the device,” according to the alert. “The power supply should be disposed of separately, as well.”