Wednesday, August 1, 2018

FAQs: Cooling Vests for MS

Q1. What is the role of cooling vests for patients in general (whether those with MS or possibly other conditions that may benefit from such).

A. There are many medical conditions affecting adults and children that can have heat intolerance as a symptom. Research has shown that cooling vests and wraps can help lessen the negative effects of heat and improve the quality of life for people with these conditions. Cooling vests are a non-invasive, drug-free and cost-effective method to manage this symptom and enable people with MS to enjoy daily activities outdoors and in the heat.

Q2. Why are cooling vests important for patients with MS in particular? What benefits can they provide?

A. The majority of people with MS experience some level of symptomatic heat intolerance. Symptoms may include: blurred vision after exercise, fatigue, dizziness or a weakness in one or both legs. Prolonged exposure to heat might make fatigue worse, which might in turn make other symptoms feel worse. Although this temporary worsening of symptoms (known as pseudo-exacerbation) may feel like a real MS attack, the symptoms will usually improve as the body temperature returns to normal.

Studies have shown that nerves with damaged myelin are sensitive to changes in temperatures. A rise in temperature may cause a failure in the effective transmission of signals from the brain to the body (nerve conduction), and a reduction in temperature may allow more signals to be transmitted across the damaged nerve.

Q3. Are cooling vests more suited for some MS patients over others? 

A. There is a saying in the MS community: “Everyone’s MS is different”. This can be true of heat intolerance also. Each person’s cooling needs can vary according to their own particular needs, their activity and their environment. 

Heat or exercise related symptoms may be brought on by activity, sunbathing, hot baths, emotion, exercise, fever or other things associated with an increase in body temperature. Many people with MS find hot weather difficult, but even in cooler weather, hot showers, or even daily activities like cooking in the kitchen or using a hair dryer can sometimes be a problem. 

A good example is that a small percentage of people with MS have a particular problem with overheating of the lower leg and feet. These people can benefit from Kool Max® cooling ankle wraps and they may not need a vest at all.

Q4. What are key features MS patients should look for when looking for a cooling vest? 

Key considerations include:
  • Climate
  • Activity
  • Cost
  • Access to a freezer
  • Flexibility of the cooling garment (i.e., does the vest allow the wearer to vary the location of cooling and number of cooling packs?)
Q5. Are there any features or things in particular to avoid when looking for a cooling vest? 

A. see question 8 - hammer/nail

Q6. What's the general price range for a cooling vest?

A. Polar Products is the only manufacturer offering the most affordable cooling vests and accessories in every cooling technology.

Water-Activated / Evaporative Vests: $30 - $200

Cooling Pack Vests (water base): $100 - $250

Cooling Pack Vests (phase change): $140 - $350

Circulating Water Vest Systems: $800 - $2,000

Q7. Are cooling vests typically covered by insurance? And are there any resources for people with MS who may need assistance with the financial cost of a cooling vest?

The short answer is that most insurance providers do not offer coverage. However, insurance coverage can vary by provider and plan, so we encourage customers to contact their provider. Occasionally we hear that insurance companies will cover the cost of a vest with proper documentation from their doctor.

Several non-profit organizations have cooling programs and will provide cooling garments at no cost to people with MS who meet financial eligibility guidelines. These non-profits include the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America ( and the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation ( Polar Products is proud supplier for these outstanding cooling programs, which include several of our most popular cooling vests and accessories.

Additionally the VA Hospital system provides Polar cooling vests for veterans with MS. Veterans may have to specifically request such a system.

Q8. What product recommendations do you have for people with MS?

Vests and accessories with Kool Max® frozen water-based cooling packs: the number one choice for MS cooling. These garments are available in a variety of configurations of vests and accessories for different activities or needs. They are lightweight, affordable, easy-to-use and ideal for any environment. 

Other popular cooling technologies for MS include:

Cool Comfort® Hybrid Water-activated Systems: these garments can be very effective in low humidity climates (and outdoor activity...)

Vests and accessories with Cool58® 58 degree phase change cooling packs: These garments use packs that will recharge in a cooler of ice water. An excellent choice when traveling or whenever freezers are not available. They are a bit higher cost and have a lower cooling energy than frozen water-based packs.

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