Heat sensitivity is a common contraindication in people with Multiple Sclerosis (pwMS), and physical fatigue is one of the most frequently reported symptoms that can affect quality of life. Increases in body temperature may exacerbate fatigue and heat-related symptoms. Decreasing body temperature via cooling devices may mitigate disease symptoms and improve physical abilities and quality of life. This study evaluates the effects of a cooling vest with sham condition on walking capacity using a commercially-available cooling vest specifically designed for pwMS.
A counter-balanced, cross-over design was used to assess the effects of a cooling vest (CryoVest Comfort, CryoInnov, France) (COLD) from a menthol-induced sham condition (CON) on ground walking time to exhaustion (Tex, s) and distance at exhaustion (Dex, m) in ambulatory pwMS. Secondary outcomes were heart rate (HR, bpm), thermal sensation (Tsens), skin chest (Tchest) and back (Tback) temperature.
Ten females with Multiple Sclerosis (59 ± 9 years, EDSS 3.0–5.5) participated to the study. During COLD, pwMS walked significantly longer (1896 ± 602 vs. 1399 ± 404 s, p < 0.001) and farther (1879 ± 539 vs. 1302 ± 318 m, p < 0.001) than CON. Importantly, Tsens and HR at exhaustion were not significantly different between conditions, although Tchest (− 2.7 ± 1.8 °C, p < 0.01) and Tback (− 3.9 ± 1.8 °C, p < 0.001) were lower at volitional fatigue during COLD.
The lightweight cooling vest improved total walking time and distance in heat-sensitive pwMS. These physiological improvements were likely due to feeling perceptually cooler in the COLD trial, compared to the corresponding point of fatigue in the CON condition.
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The datasets generated during and/or analyzed during the current study are not publicly available due to IRB/EC requirements, but are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.
6 Min walking test
Analysis of variance
Cold vest condition
Comfortable walking speed
- D ex :
Distance to exhaustion
Expanded disability status scale
People with Multiple Sclerosis
- T :
Time (different time points during the exercise)
Timed 25-Foot Walk
Mid-scapular skin temperature
Mid-pectoral skin temperature
- T ex :
Time to exhaustion
Timed up and go
Visual analog scale
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This study was funded by Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Trieste (09/2018).
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
This study was approved by the Institutional Review Board of the “Azienda Sanitaria Universitaria Giuliana Isontina” and the Ethics Board of Friuli-Venezia Giulia. The study was performed in accordance with the ethical standards as laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments.
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Communicated by George Havenith.
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Buoite Stella, A., Pasquin, F., Morrison, S.A. et al. Effects of a cooling vest with sham condition on walking capacity in heat-sensitive people with Multiple Sclerosis. Eur J Appl Physiol 120, 2467–2476 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-020-04478-3
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Uhthoff phenomenon