The Effects of Pericooling on Six Minute Walk Test Performance in Persons with Multiple Sclerosis
Objectives: The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of pericooling on 6-minute walk test (6MWT) performance in pwMS. It was hypothesized that pwMS would have better 6MWT performance while wearing a cooling vest as compared to an uncooled condition. If our hypothesis were correct, it would suggest that pwMS could achieve improved exercise performance without needing precooling.
Methods: A randomized crossover design was used. Patients were randomized into cooled or uncooled conditions. Cooled subjects would perform a 6MWT donning a commercially available cooling vest immediately prior to the walk. Walks would be performed once a week for three weeks. Total 6MWT distance as well as minute-by-minute distance was recorded. Fatigue during the walk was measured using the Visual Analog Scale of Fatigue. Uncooled subjects would perform the identical protocol without a cooling device. Following the 3 walks in one condition, subjects would undergo a 2-week washout period and then repeat the same protocol in whatever condition they did not experience initially.
Results: Six females (x̅ age = 51.33 years) with mild MS (x̅ EDSS = 2.67) completed the study. A repeated-measures MANOVA showed that wearing the cooling vest resulted in walking significantly farther in the cooled condition (x̅ = 1257.13’, SD = 375.50) than in the uncooled condition (x̅ =1164.56’, SD = 302.81), F(1,17) = 4.63, p = .046.There were no significant differences in minute-by-minute walking distances nor in VAFS scores between the two conditions.
Conclusions: The cooled condition resulted in significantly longer 6MWT distances than did the uncooled condition in 6 females with mild MS. As most studies of cooling in MS utilize cooling prior to an exercise activity, these results indicate an alternative and less time-consuming means of achieving the beneficial effects of cooling.