Multiple sclerosis is a form of autoimmune disorder that occurs in individuals who produce antibodies against their own cells or tissues. In multiple sclerosis, the antibodies are directed towards the fatty sheaths around nerve cells.
Fatigue is the most common symptom of the disease. It can be to a certain extent by aerobic exercise. One of the limitations in this regard is that MS appears to cause the body to heat up more quickly, leading to a compromise on the exercise potential.
A new study targeted towards providing a better quality of life for these patents will investigate if cooling the body before or during exercise would allow for longer hours of exercise. The study also will determine the effects of a 12-week aerobic exercise program on fitness, core and skin temperature, and heat flux in MS patients.
Exercise can build up strength and endurance, reduce depression and increase endorphins, the chemicals in the brain responsible for positive moods. This should however be done correctly to reap the maximum beneficial effect.
The study would be conducted in two phases on a group of 60 persons with the disease. During the first phase, which will comprise four weeks, each participant will exercise under a different cooling condition each week (no cooling; cooling before exercise by wearing a specially designed, temperature-controlled cooling vest; cooling during exercise while wearing the vest, and cooling using a method of their choosing other than the vest) to determine how different cooling methods affect exercise performance and core body temperature.
The patients will also swallow a temperature pill developed by the NASA that would transmit the temperature reading to an external monitor during its travel through the human body.
Various physiological measurements that will help enable the identification of the effect and effectiveness of the cooling measures adopted. It is hoped that the cooling would help increase the exercise capability in MS patients, thereby improving their functionality and cardiovascular status.