- Cooling Products
- Cooling Distribution Program
- What is a cooling vest?
- Why wear a cooling vest?
- What other kinds of cooling garments are available?
- Best features of cooling garments
- Where to find cooling garments
- What Are the Best Cooling Vests for Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?
- Why Do People with MS Need to Stay Cool?
- Is Heat Bad for MS?
- What is Uhthoff’s Phenomenon?
- Heat Triggers My MS Symptoms
- What Time of Day is Best to Exercise?
- What is a Cooling Vest for MS?
- What is Your Biggest Struggle with MS?
- Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA)
- Cooling for Multiple Sclerosis and Other Heat Intolerant Conditions
- Medical Cooling Vests
- Heat and MS Symptoms Do Not Mix!
- Cooling Vests and MS
- The Power of Keeping Cool
Cooling Distribution Program
MSAA provides cooling vests (such as the ones pictured above) to individuals with MS who qualify for the program.
Many people with multiple sclerosis are heat sensitive. MS research has proven that heat and humidity often aggravate common MS symptoms. MS research has also proven that cooling the body can help lessen the negative effects of heat and humidity on a person with MS.
The MSAA Cooling Program offers cooling vests and accessories for adults with multiple sclerosis as well as children diagnosed with pediatric MS. Cooling vests are commonly worn over clothing and contain insulated pockets that hold small ice packs. MSAA also offers smaller products to wear under clothing as well as accessories to help cool the neck, wrists and ankles. MSAA provides these products at no charge and items are shipped directly to the client. If you have any questions, please call MSAA at (800) 532-7667 or email [email protected]
(adult cooling equipment only)
Mail-In Application (see steps below)
Step 1: Download the appropriate cooling application:
Submit just one application form to cover your selections.
Step 2: Please complete the forms, print, and sign.
Step 3: Please place the signed forms, along with any necessary additional documentation, in an envelope and mail to:
Attn: Program Coordinator – Cooling
375 Kings Highway North
Cherry Hill, NJ 08034
Watch our video to learn how a cooling vest can help people with MS.
“The thing I can’t live without is the cooling vest you offer us. Without it, I would continue to be confined. I can’t thank the MSAA enough for giving me back a part of my life I missed out on so much of, until recently.”
– Cathy from Shenorock, New York
The MSAA Cooling Distribution Program is made possible, in part, with support from Because You Can, Biogen, Celgene, EMD Serono, Genentech, Mallinckrodt, Ravitz Foundation, and Sanofi Genzyme.
Editor’s note: “Need to Know” is a series inspired by common forum questions and comments from readers. Have a comment or question about MS? Visit our forum. This week’s question is inspired by the forum topic “Has anyone tried one of these cooling vests?“ from April 18, 2018.
What is a cooling vest?
It’s the time of year when things begin to heat up, especially in the South. For people with MS, the challenges of living with the disease include careful regulation of body temperature. People who are physically active are also known to wear cooling vests during periods of exercise, for the same reason.
As a result, clever designers have created cooling vests, garments that can be worn in hot temperatures to help reduce core body temperature, or at least keep it from spiking. These can be worn over or under clothing, depending on the style and type.
Why wear a cooling vest?
As the name suggests, it’s all about core temperature regulation. Some people with MS can handle the heat by drinking cool fluids, avoiding hot locations, using air conditioning, taking lukewarm showers or baths, wearing lightweight and loose fabrics, and spraying themselves with a bottle mister.
But for some, these methods aren’t enough. Heat extremes may affect the speed of signals going to and from the brain in areas where damage and demyelination have occurred.
People with MS are known to have heat intolerance or sensitivity.
The form of heat intolerance experienced by people with MS is better known as Uhthoff’s syndrome. Previously, a “hot bath test” was used to confirm an MS diagnosis.
The development of lesions that are located on the parts of the brain responsible for thermoregulation may be part of the problem. It is for me! Damage there can lead to living with a “broken thermostat.”
People with MS may not necessarily live in hot climates.
In fact, large populations of people with MS live in northern climates that don’t experience hot periods — at least not for very long, compared to the South.
Overheating isn’t only the product of climate: Hot baths, steamy showers, hot tubs, hot kitchens, exercising in hot spaces like gyms, fevers caused by viruses in the wintertime, sunbathing, tanning booths, humidity on moderate-temperature days, even getting ready for the day under the hot lights of a bathroom vanity can lead to feeling overheated.
Overheating can lead to the worsening of MS symptoms.
According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS), “These temporary changes can result from even a slight elevation in core body temperature (one-quarter to one-half of a degree). An elevated temperature further impairs the ability of a demyelinated nerve to conduct electrical impulses.”
The side effects of being overheated generally point to a temporary exacerbation of the symptoms unique to the person with MS. For some, this might mean a bout of fatigue; for others, it could be increased muscle spasticity, tinnitus, blurry vision, or cognitive dysfunction.
Fortunately, once the body reclaims a normal core temperature, the symptoms usually return to their normal levels.
What other kinds of cooling garments are available?
Aside from vests, you can also find cooling variations on these common garments:
- Neck wraps
- Ankle wraps
- Therapy packs
Best features of cooling garments
The main consideration (aside from price and general fit) is whether your vest is considered an active or passive technology. Your particular needs will help determine which you should use.
- Active technology incorporates power packs for operation, to provide continuous cooling throughout the day.
- Passive technology does not use power packs, but provides cooling for periods between 30 minutes and four hours, depending on the vest design.
Dave Bexfield, at Active MSers, recently created a comprehensive and unbiased “Gear Guide: Cooling Vests & Apparel” (18 products reviewed) that may help you determine which options are best suited to your needs. If you’re in the market (and now’s the time, if there ever is one), I highly recommend you visit the site.
Where to find cooling garments
- The MS Foundation’s MS Focus Cooling Program offers free cooling vests, neck wraps, wristbands, and hats on an application basis. Apply between Feb. 1 and June 1.
- The NMSS offers this 2019 Cooling Equipment Information & National Vendor List to locate cooling garments, as well as tips for getting insurance coverage for these purchases.
- The Multiple Sclerosis Association of America’s Cooling Distribution Program offers cooling products for both adults and children on a needs basis, and requires an eligibility application.
Do you need a new cooling solution? What other tips and tricks can you offer other people with MS to address overheating? Post your replies in the comments below or at the original “Has anyone tried one of these cooling vests?“ forum entry.
Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.
What Are the Best Cooling Vests for Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?
A question I’m often asked is, “What Are the Best Cooling Vests for Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?” I’ve scouted quite a few and found the one. My favorite cooling vest for MS isn’t too bulky or heavy, has a nice sleek design, and is easy on the eyes.
Why Do People with MS Need to Stay Cool?
Did you know excessive heat can cause a Multiple Sclerosis flare? That makes living with MS during hot summer days a conundrum for me. Why? Because the treatment program I’ve created entails walking a couple of miles everyday to help my body stay limber and keep my detox pathways open.
Is Heat Bad for MS?
I’ve found it’s not common knowledge that heat can exacerbate Multiple Sclerosis. That’s because the majority of patients haven’t been educated about this issue by their neurologists. According to the National MS Society:
Many people with MS experience a temporary worsening of their symptoms when the weather is very hot or humid, or when they run a fever. These temporary changes can result from even a slight elevation in core body temperature (one-quarter to one-half of a degree). An elevated temperature further impairs the ability of a demyelinated nerve to conduct electrical impulses.
What is Uhthoff’s Phenomenon?
According to Wikipedia, Uhthoff’s phenomenom is the worsening of neurologic symptoms in Multiple Sclerosis (MS) when the body gets overheated from hot weather, exercise, fever, or saunas and hot tubs.
Heat Triggers My MS Symptoms
I find my MS symptoms can be much worse when I’m overheated. From a biochemical perspective, it’s thought that heat can raise inflammatory cytokine levels in those of us with Multiple Sclerosis.1 For me, that makes increasing my core thermal temperature a no-no. The solution? This super awesome cooling vest.
What Time of Day is Best to Exercise?
Before I landed on this Glacier Tek Cooling Vest I would limit my outdoor exercise time to the evenings during hot weather. I don’t like to work out right when I wake up when it’s cooler outside. That’s because I find that going slow in the morning has been very restful and healing for my adrenals. This is important given that I have two autoimmune disorders in addition to Multiple Sclerosis. I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in 1998, and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis in 2005.
There are tons of cooling vests for MS that you can get information on from a good neurologist, or discover online. I found the cooling vests made by medical supply companies a bit frumpy looking, so I went the online route, bought the Glacier Tek Cooling Vest, and fell in love with it. It’s sporty looking and at 5 pounds fairly lightweight. I chose white because it’s a light color that reflects, rather than absorbs, heat, and I ended up in a size medium –the small did not fit in the bust.
What is a Cooling Vest for MS?
So, getting down to the nuts and bolts, you might be wondering, “what exactly is a cooling vest?” The Glacier Tek Cooling Vest is made of soft, lightweight, stretchable fabric, and comes with 12 non-toxic cooling packets that tuck into specially designed pockets. The vest comes in a nice mesh bag and I use that to store the entire gizmo in the bottom drawer of of my freezer. The cooling packets stay at around 60F° for over two hours.
What is Your Biggest Struggle with MS?
I’m so happy that I found this vest. It’s literally been life changing for me, eliminating one of my biggest struggles with MS and I hope it helps you too. More important, I want to hear from all of you! What’s your biggest struggle with MS? Leave a comment and let me know and I’ll work to find solutions that help all of us.
With springtime finally making an appearance in much of the US, summer will be upon us before you can count down from one thousand. With the summer season also comes high temperatures, humidity—capable of gluing clothing to skin as soon as you step out the front door—and MS symptoms that can knock you on your butt, literally and figuratively.
MS and Heat Sensitivity
For many people with MS, a rise in core body temperature can exacerbate symptoms such as weakness, impaired coordination or balance, fatigue, vision disturbances, cognitive problems, and more. When MS symptoms are temporarily worsened due to heat or exhaustion, it is called a pseudoexacerbation. Once the body’s temperature returns to normal, the symptoms will often recede, causing no permanent damage. People with MS who experience these types of increased symptoms due to changes in temperature or humidity are said to be heat sensitive. It is also possible to be cold sensitive.
MS Cooling Equipment One way to combat heat sensitivity is by keeping the body cool; literally chill down in the summer so you can chill out and enjoy the great outdoors. Read specific recommendations in** Strategies for Keeping Cool** to learn how to combat the heat with simple things such as light fabrics, cold water, ice, frozen items, fans, and cooling vests and equipment. For up-to-date reviews, recommendations and links to resources regarding cooling equipment, visit the ActiveMSers: Staying Active with Multiple Sclerosis website.
MS Cooling Programs Multiple sclerosis advocacy organizations want to help you deal with the summer heat and provide free cooling equipment to those who meet eligibility criteria. Different types of cooling vests, neckties, wristbands, bandanas, baseball hats, and more are available. The time to apply for these programs is** RIGHT NOW** as supplies may be limited.
The Multiple Sclerosis Foundation Cooling Program opens each year on February 1st and continues through June 1st. Applications, which require income verification and a doctor’s note, can be submitted online or by postal mail. Applications are confidential and must be reviewed by the grant committee. Visit the MSF Cooling Program website or call (888) MSFOCUS (673-6287) for more information.
The Multiple Sclerosis Association of America Cooling Equipment Distribution program provides cooling equipment to both adults and children living with MS. Download the appropriate application from the MSAA website; return application materials and required documentation, including income verification and a doctor’s note, to the MSAA program coordinator by postal mail. For more information, visit the MSAA Cooling Equipment website, call (800) 532-7667, or email [email protected]
Shortly after diagnosis I applied to one of the above programs and received a cooling vest that uses soft gel ice packs in pockets, as well as neck and wrist wraps. Ten years later, I still use many of the same gel packs.
See More Helpful Posts:
Strategies for Keeping Cool with MS in the Summer Heat
Heat and MS: An Impaired Ability to Regulate Temperatures
Tremor in Multiple Sclerosis: Prevalence, Cause and Treatment
Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA)
EQUIPMENT DISTRIBUTION: Therapeutic and supportive equipment designed to improve the safety, dignity, mobility, and independence of people with MS is provided free of charge. Therapeutic equipment includes wheelchairs, canes, walkers, hospital beds and more. Supportive equipment includes grab bars, specially made dishes and utensils, toilet seat raisers, tools to make dressing easier, etc.
COOLING: Cooling kits are provided free of charge to people with MS to assist in relief from heat and humidity, which research shows can aggravate common MS symptoms. These items, including cooling vests, collars, hats, and pillowcases, allow people with MS to remain active in the workplace and to participate comfortably in outdoor activities.
MRI ACCESS FUND: This program provides financial support in acquiring MRIs, valuable diagnostic tests used in detecting and treating MS. The MRI Access Fund helps to subsidize the cost of an initial MRI to confirm a diagnosis of MS or can pay for or subsidize subsequent MRIs for people whose doctors want to track disease and treatment progression. This program is especially beneficial to the uninsured and those whose insurance doesn’t completely cover the cost of an MRI.
TOLL-FREE HELPLINE: The Helpline directly connects people who are facing challenges from their MS, as well as their loved ones and care partners, to trained consultants. Helpline consultants can provide assistance, advocacy, referrals, or just a friendly ear. They may recommend programs offered by MSAA, as well as other resources such as Social Security programs, transportation services, and pharmaceutical financial assistance programs. A bilingual consultant is available for the Spanish-speaking MS community.
S.E.A.R.C.H: Assists the MS community with learning about different treatment choices. Each letter represents an important topic that must be considered by patients, physicians, and other healthcare and social service professionals.
MS EDUCATIONAL VIDEOS: More than 35 online videos are available on MSAA’s website featuring recognized experts in MS. They can be viewed by anyone, anywhere who has a computer, bringing up-to-date expert information that provides knowledge and empowerment right into the privacy and comfort of a person’s home.
My MS Manager: Mobile application, provided free of charge to individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS) or their care partner to use on their smartphone or tablet. This first-of-its kind app for MS offers individuals a convenient and effective tool to manage the ever-changing course of the disease.
PUBLICATIONS: A wide array of comprehensive and easy-to-read large-type booklets and pamphlets that explain MS, its symptoms and management, and MSAA programs are published and distributed free of charge by MSAA.
MSAA’s magazine, The Motivator, provides vital up-to-date information and uplifting stories to the MS community. These publications are key in raising awareness and educating the public about multiple sclerosis. All publications are free of charge.
EDUCATIONAL EVENTS: MSAA organizes and sponsors a wide array of public education and awareness events geared towards individuals with MS and healthcare professionals. These events often feature expert neurologists and healthcare professionals who bring clients the latest information on the advances in MS research, available treatment options, and new techniques to meet the physical, emotional, and social challenges, which arise from living with a chronic illness.
LENDING LIBRARY: MSAA offers more than 300 books and articles for readers to borrow by mail. This literature includes information on living with MS, self-esteem issues, and other topics of interest to people who want to know more about MS and coping with its challenges.
Cooling for Multiple Sclerosis and Other Heat Intolerant Conditions
- SHOP BODY
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- Polar Coolers + Pack Containers
- Kits – Save Money!
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The Arctic Heat Body cooling vest is a extremely popular with people with Multiple Sclerosis. The Summer heat affects many people with MS and effectively confines them to the indoors and air conditioning. The Arctic Heat cooling vest or ice vest is the extremely low profile and light weight when compared to other cooling vest available.
How does the Arctic Heat cooling vest compare to other products?
The Arctic Heat cool vest weighs around 2.2 pounds other products such as PCM or Phase change vests which may stay cooler for longer weigh 5 to 9 pounds and are much bulkier, you can check out some of them here. There are other cheaper products like evaporative cooling vests however they are generally a wet and wear product (soak in water and wear so you can get damp) and the cooling is limited to evaporative cooling so it may not provide enough cooling to assist with the MS heat intolerance. There are also dry evaporative cooling vests however again we don’t recommend them for people with MS.
If you require a cooling vest that is lightweight and will allow you to be active then the Arctic Heat cool vest is your solution.
Medical Cooling Vests
We are aware that hot days and activities don’t mix well with multiple sclerosis (MS)—but our vests are the perfect a solution. StaCool Vest is one of the only companies that has medical cooling vests that are specifically designed for MS patients and those who suffer from chronic heat intolerance.
Heat and MS Symptoms Do Not Mix!
As shown in studies, aerobic activities can benefit MS patients by increasing mobility and improving muscle strength. However, when active, the produces more heat—and this can make MS symptoms worse. Our cooling vest for MS Patients are ideal for providing the patient with some relief from their heat-related symptoms. Some MS symptoms, such as disturbed vision, lack of balance, muscle weakness, and fatigue, can worsen as the body’s temperature rises. Our vests reduce body temperature and maintain body comfort so that MS patients can participate in and experience life anew.
There are Many Benefits to Our Cooling Vests!
Cooling vests from StaCool:
- Increase circulation throughout the body
- Increase physical activity
- Increase overall well being
- Increase mobility
- Help manage heat sensitivity
Our cooling vests benefit MS patients in many different ways. We suggest reading “Relieving Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms with Cooling Vests” and “3 Benefits of Cooling Vests for MS Patients” to learn more about our cooling vests for MS patients. We have done our research to better understand how we can help you live a comfortable, active life. If you experience negative effects from heat, we suggest that you give our cooling vests a try!
Reach Out to Us Today
If you have any questions concerning our medical cooling vests, please contact us at 1-866-782-2665. Our personal cooling vests help you or your loved stay active and comfortable. Shop from our adult and children collections today to find the best active medical cooling vest for you!
Cooling Vests and MS
Too warm or too cold, changes in temperature can affect MS symptoms. Many with MS have found creative ways to stay cool when the days start getting warmer. A cooling vest can help bring down the body’s temperature when worn on a hot day.
On MyMSTeam, the social network and online support group for those living with multiple sclerosis, members talk about a range of personal experiences and struggles. Cooling vests are one of the top 10 topics most discussed.
Here are a few question-and-answer threads about cooling vests:
How do you handle the humidity and hot weather?
Does anyone have a good review on a cooling vest to working outside this summer?
The heat really bothers me. Can anyone recommend a cooling vest?
Here are conversations that have taken place about cooling vests:
I bought a cooling vest, cooling shirt, cooling pants to go with my jeans and a cooling beanie!
Got my new cooling vest in today.
I found out you can get a cooling vest through the MS Society.
Have another topic you’d like to discuss or explore? Go to MyMSTeam today and start the conversation. You’ll be surprised just how many others may share similar stories.
Feel free to ask a question here.
The Power of Keeping Cool
By Adam Browne
Tips and techniques to keep cool while exercising during the warmer months
Firstly, why do you want to keep cool?
With an increase in body temperature even by as little as 0.5 degrees Celsius many people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) experience a temporary worsening of symptoms (1). For many individuals this most predominately affects their experience of fatigue. Fatigue has been found to affect up to 75% of people with MS and is often reported as the biggest barrier to exercise and during the warmer months of the year this becomes an even larger barrier (2). This is because as the body’s core temperature increases the nerves ability to conduct and relay the appropriate messages become impaired (1,2). As each person experiences fatigue differently, different strategies may be successful in combating temperature increases, and therefore any worsening of fatigue or other MS related symptoms. For this reason it is important to trial a range of strategies in order to identify those that work for you. These strategies aim to enable you to manage heat related fatigue and other symptoms while allowing you to continue to benefit from your exercise program.
If you are sensitive to the heat, what are some of the strategies that can be used to keep your body temperature down while you are exercising? The following is a list of tips and ideas that you can try to aid in your efforts to keep cool and continue with your exercise:
Understand your body and the environment
- Learn to recognise the early signs of heat induced fatigue (any change in visual or sensory symptoms), this way you can take a break or reduce the intensity of your activity
- Exercise during the cooler part of the day so aim for the morning or evening
- Wear light, loose clothing
- Make sure the clinic or gym you are attending has air-conditioning
- If you are planning on exercising in a pool such as hydrotherapy be conscious of the temperature of the water and if you can find a pool with a water temperature below 30 degrees Celsius
Hydrate and keep your inside cool
- Make sure you remain well hydrated by drinking cool/cold water before, during and after exercise
- Drinking ice drinks such as slushies or sucking on an ice-block will aid in reducing your body temperature by cooling you from the inside during and after exercise and assist in reducing heat induced fatigue symptoms
Use of cooling garments
- Wearing a ‘cooling vest’ or ‘ice vest’ provide cooling for the body from the outside and have been found to reduce fatigue as well as decrease the effects of other symptoms induced by heat (3,4). This will allow you to exercise for longer periods while remaining cool and reducing the effects of the heat on your MS symptoms. Cooling vests come in a variety of forms and are supplied by a range of manufacturers, contact your doctor, physiotherapist, exercise physiologist or get in touch with the MS society for more information on your different options.
- Other cooling options while exercising include the use of wet cloths/scarves, which can be worn around your neck, head or wrist, or wearable cooling products such as a cooling necktie. These options provide an alternative to the cooling vests in less costly way
- Use a spray bottle to lightly spray yourself with water during your exercise session
- Cool down before exercise by having a cold shower or using cooling garments has been found to reduce your body temperature and this allows you to gain extra time before your body temperature starts to increase when you exercise (3). You will need to experiment with how cool of a shower you can endure and how much it helps you, but you might be surprised at the increase in your tolerance for the heat.
Cooling after exercise
- After exercise have a cool shower or get into a pool to assist in cooling your body and reducing your core body temperature, you can also use your cooling garments to aid in reducing body temperature after exercise and help to reduce any effects of fatigue.
Cooling and keeping core body temperature lower using different methods has been shown to be beneficial, both before and during exercise to have a positive effect on MS patients and any symptoms that may be amplified through heat sensitivity (3,4). Remember that if you do find heat sensitivity a barrier to your exercise, you can use any of these strategies to assist in keeping you cool, allowing you to continue to get the maximum benefit from your exercise therapy. Remember to discuss your heat tolerance problems with your health care providers (doctor, nurse, physiotherapist, exercise physiologist or occupational therapist) to find the best strategy for you.