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Living with Multiple Sclerosis: How a Cooling Vest Helps

If you suffer from multiple sclerosis, summertime can be a difficult period of the year - especially as the line between winter and spring gets blurred and the hot days come earlier in the season. The reason people with MS tend to loathe summer can be explained through demyelination, a process through which increased heat increases the nerve pain experienced.

Since Heat is a Problem, Do Cooler Temperatures Help?

Yes! A lot of MS patients try to stay inside with air conditioning as the weather heats up. While this can be a nice solution for random days, it is unrealistic to stay locked up during the warm seasons. This is a distinct disadvantage for MS sufferers who want to get outside to work, be active, and otherwise live a normal life.

While there have been various attempts to keep people with MS cool, one of the most successful options available have been through the use of cooling vests for multiple sclerosis patients.

What is a Cooling Vest for MS?

Cooling vests for MS can be thought of as a wearable icepack. Of course, the actual science is more complicated than that; however, at the core an MS cooling vest retains the cold from being placed in a freezer or ice chest or even as simply as being immersed in water for a few seconds. It is then used to help keep your body temperature low as you spend time away from the air conditioning.

What is the Best MS Cooling Vest?

That's the thousand-dollar question, isn't it? There are so many variables with the types of temperatures experienced in various areas that it becomes hard to pinpoint which cooling vest for MS will best service your specific needs, not to mention the different types and features that the bevy of cooling vests for MS patients come with.

Passive vs. Active MS Cooling Vest

To begin the process of picking a cooling vest for MS, multiple sclerosis patients need to familiarize themselves with the two basic types offered:

  1. Active Cooling Vests
    "Active" refers to a vest that requires some kind of power source to keep it cool. On the plus side, a power source means the vest is effective for longer each use than one that is reliant on chill retention. However, since the vest is more complicated, it also costs significantly more.
  2. Passive Cooling Vests
    "Passive" means it absorbs cold from being in a freezer or in an ice cooler, and then is worn until it loses effectiveness.These vests are less expensive (some organizations will give basic ones away to MS sufferers who can't afford one) and can be easily chilled again. There is also an evaporative cooling vest on the market that can provide 48 hours worth of comfort with only a few seconds of immersion in water.

There is also a portability issue between the two basic types: active cooling systems can be portable, but aren't well suited to active hobbies like hiking, biking, etc. There is no similar problem with passive multiple sclerosis cooling vests.

So What can I expect a Cooling Vest for Multiple Sclerosis to Cost?

Depending on what your insurance covers, the prices can vary greatly. If you're paying the list price, without any insurance help, a passive cooling vest can go for as low as $30 and up to (or over) $300. By contrast, an active cooling vest can cost thousands of dollars, with the cheapest being a bit more expensive than a high-end passive vest.

As mentioned above, if you are finding you can't cover the price yourself, several MS organizations provide free, basic cooling vests.

If you're having trouble determining what the best cooling vest for MS patients in your climate is, see if your doctor can give you some suggestions. While you might be able to afford trying several cheaper multiple sclerosis cooling vests, you're not going to want to spend hundreds of dollars on a vest that won't be effective for you.