It seems that MS patients have found an unlikely ally in NASA.  A suit developed to cool astronauts provides Multiple Sclerosis assistance by cooling the body in a much more convenient and comfortable way than was practical in the past. More than three decades ago, it was discovered that for patients with MS, assistance in the way of symptom relief could be had by cooling the body by as little as one degree Fahrenheit.

With MS, the loss of a substance called myelin gradually damages the nerves in the Central Nervous System. This myelin covers the nerves and acts as protective sheath. This sheath acts as in insulation and allows electrical impulses or signals to be transmitted throughout the nervous system. When this insulation is stripped away by the Multiple Sclerosis, the ability to transmit these signals is disrupted. The resulting symptoms are the most troublesome problem the patient lives with in the daily battle to control MS. Assistance is sought in many ways, from drugs to alternative medicine. But experiments showed that the signal conductivity can often be restored to the demyelinated nerves by cooling the core temperature of the body by one degree.

Usually patients would use cold, long showers, cold pools, and air conditioning to lower the temperature. These methods, while effective, are not very comfortable or convenient. And for most, the methods are not practical and sometimes self-defeating for the patients with MS. Assistance is difficult if the patient is shivering and uncomfortable. Often, the symptoms are preferable to the treatment.


This is where NASA meets Multiple Sclerosis.  Assistance from a suit developed for astronauts is comfortable and effective.


The “cool suit” was developed to by Life Support Systems Inc. (LSSI) in California is being used to treat symptoms of MS and other diseases that benefit from temperature regulation. It is made up of a hood and torso vest that can be worn while moving around. It is self-contained and includes a control console with a cooling unit and pump.  The pump circulates the fluid in a closed system that cools it to around 50 degrees. It circulates through the “veins” of the vest and hood and can lower the patients core temperature comfortably by one degree in about a half hour while the patient is doing other things. The portability is particularly important for the patient with Multiple Sclerosis. Assistance like this is both comfortable and not inconvenient. And it can be maintained for hours while not restricting the patient to a tub or specific room. And the symptom improvement, primarily pain and fatigue relief, lasts for 3 or 4 hours after the vest is removed.

It is not a cure, but patients have used it say the symptom relief is dramatic. It is being distributed to MS centers around the country for further testing and evaluation. And there could be modifications that may make it useful in other ways. For patients with MS, assistance is welcome wherever it comes from.