The MS Focus: Multiple Sclerosis Foundation will be accepting applications through June for its Cooling Program, which provides cooling garments to multiple sclerosis patients whose condition has left them heat-sensitive.
Although 60 to 80 percent of patients are heat-sensitive, there were no MS-specific cooling garments on the U.S. market until ThermApparel was born. The foundation is partnering with the company on the Cooling Program initiative, which is for patients on limited incomes.
Two former industrial design students started the Rochester Institute of Technology-based company in 2015. The vest they invented, UnderCool, weighs less than two pounds and is made with a four-way stretch fabric. The fabric contains a material that freezes at room temperature, keeping a person cool for 90 minutes.
“Many cooling apparel products that are on the market are not specifically made for people living with medical disorders, but instead for people who may become overheated working in factories or on construction sites,” Bradley Dunn, ThermApparel co-founder, said in an Rochester Institute news piece.
“Our cooling vest has unique features that were requested by people living with MS, including its ability to be virtually invisible under clothing and extremely lightweight. And it’s very comfortable,” Dunn said.
Under the Cooling Program, MS patients who meet income requirements will be eligible to receive ThermApparel’s UnderCool vests and products from two other providers, including vests, neck wraps, wristbands and hats. You can apply to the Cooling Program at this link.
Keeping cool can help patients at work, while shopping, and carrying out their daily routines. It can also help patients pursue activities associated with warmer seasons, including gardening, fishing, and walking.
“It’s exciting to be able to get our cooling vests out to the people who really need them,” said Kurtis Kracke, the other ThermApparel co-founder. “The vest is mailed directly to customers as soon as they’re approved for the program.”
ThermApparel won second place in the Rochester Insitute’s Tiger Tank innovation competition and second place in the Effective Access Technology Conference product competition in 2015. In 2017, it took second place in the Rochester Venture Challenge.
Solid demand has prompted the company to decide to make products for people who are heat-sensitive due to other health conditions. These include drug side effects, traumatic brain injuries, and hormonal imbalances.
“We started the company because we just didn’t want to see this go on the shelf as a student project that never became anything,” Kracke said. “We see ourselves as problem solvers, and we started this business to help people once again experience the joys of outdoor life.”