Wearing a cooling vest significantly improved the time and distance walked under conditions that can provoke heat sensitivity in people with multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a small study.
Past studies have used cooling vests and common movement tests, such as the timed up and go and the six-minute walk test, to show that cooling the body either prior to or during exercise improved exercise capacity and eased disease symptoms.
A research team with the University of Trieste, in Italy, argued that these standard tests do not reflect everyday life demands, and that the failure to blind participants in a comparison of what is being tested — a cooling versus a sham vest, analogous to the use of a placebo group in clinical trials — limit the relevance of such studies.
Ten female MS patients participated in the study. Their average age was 59 and their expanded disability status scale (EDSS) scores were between 3.5 and 5.0, meaning moderate to severe disability.
The study opened with each patient walking 30 meters (about 98.5 feet) to establish a baseline, or study’s starting, measure of “comfortable walking speed.”
Patients were then divided into two groups. One group was given CyroVests outfitted with cooling packs to lower their body temperatures; these packs were at a temperature of minus 0.4 C, or about 32.7 F. The other group was give CyroVests with cooling packs at ambient (air) temperature, but sprayed with a 0.05% menthol solution to induce an immediate cold sensation.
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