Cooling Device May Work for Multiple Sclerosis, but Patients Resisted

Patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) often have sensitivity to heat that worsens their symptoms. In earlier studies with MS patients, a device system that cools body temperature by chilling one palm proved useful in helping them walk faster and longer. But patients need to be motivated to use it successfully.

Patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) often have sensitivity to heat that worsens their symptoms. In earlier studies with MS patients a device system that cools body temperature by chilling one palm proved useful in helping them walk faster and longer.

But in a study reported during a poster session April 22 at the 2015 American Academy of Neurology annual meeting in Washington, DC, a California team of researchers found that having the device did not motivate patients to walk more.

Andrew Dorsch, MD, and colleagues at the University of California Los Angeles Health System recruited 24 ambulatory MS patients with heat sensitivity for the study. The subjects were fitted with wireless sensors. They were worn for a week to get a baseline level of physical activity. The patients were then randomly assigned to get either the device, made by Avacore technologies and so far used mostly by athletes, or a sham device.

The hope was that the patients with the cooling device would increase their level of exercise. But that did not happen.

“Use of a hand-held cooling device was not associated with changes in walking performance,” the team wrote.

But they did find that wireless health technologies are useful in measuring such activities.