I see a hint that it might contain the illegal variables
delta_uv- delta_uw. delta_vw/
then I find that the splitmat complains that there is a zero-byte tag. It is not clear that the program is appropriate for the purpose, though, as the .mat is a -v7.3 whereas that solution was released during 7.2, before the new file format.
I find that routine to not be able to fix the problem, which suggests that there are problems that are deeper than just a bad variable name.
That solution also mentions matzerofix which is intended to process files with the zero-tag error, which was something that dated from R14. I would not immediately expect it to be compatible with -v7.3 files. It did report 4 errors, two of which it had suggestions for; I do not know enough to say whether the suggestions have any hope of working with a -v7.3 file. MATCAT is unable to analyze the file, which is not surprising as that tool is only for v5 files.
I don't think you are going to be able to load this file. I recommend you open a support case on this, as MATLAB should, as you rightly note, not crash when reading a .mat file.