The effect of cooling garments to improve physical function in people with multiple sclerosis: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Christopher J. Stevens, Gurpreet Singh, Benjamin Peterson, Nicole T. Vargas, Julien D. Périard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Background: There is strong evidence for the benefits of exercise for people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), however, up to 80% of people with MS report experiencing exacerbated symptoms with elevated body temperatures. A range of cooling garments to assist people with MS manage symptoms of heat sensitivity have been investigated. Therefore, the aim of this systematic review was to assess the effect of cooling garments to improve physical function in people with MS, and to determine any associated physiological and perceptual responses. Method: A systematic review adhering to the PRISMA guidelines was performed. The eligibility criteria required investigations to have conducted a randomized controlled trial or cross-over study to assess the effect of a cooling garment to improve physical function, or a related physiological or perceptual measure, in people with MS. Results: Thirteen empirical studies were identified, compromising of acute cross-over designs (61.5%), longitudinal parallel group designs (23.1%) or a combination of both (15.4%). The studies included 384 participants with MS with an expanded disability status scale range of 1–7.5. Garments included liquid-perfused cooling vests/tops/hoods (50.0%), phase-change cooling vests (38.9%), a cooling thigh-cuff (5.6%) and a palm cooling device (5.6%). The cooling garments were effective at improving walking capacity and functional mobility, and some studies demonstrated improvements in muscular strength and balance, but not manual dexterity. The garments also resulted in improved core temperature, skin temperature, thermal sensation and subjective fatigue. Improvements occurred in temperate and warm conditions, and both with and without an exercise stimulus. Discussion: Cooling garments can improve physical function for people with MS. Since none of the cooling garments caused harm, and no particular cooling garment could be identified as being superior, people with MS should experiment with different cooling garments to determine their preference, and industry should focus on cooling garments that are effective, accessible and user-friendly.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104912
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalMultiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders
Volume78
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jul 2023

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