For many people with multiple sclerosis (MS), warmer temperatures make their symptoms worse. Technology from space can help multiple sclerosis patients brave the summer heat.
Just one month ago, Teri Cosentino couldn't walk across the room, much less the street. Teri's multiple sclerosis made it difficult for her to even stand up. "Having MS is sort of like living with the flu every day, without the nausea and the headache. It feels really hard to do anything," says Teri.
Now, NASA researchers have found that a version of the liquid cooling garments worn by astronauts under their space suits can alleviate some of those symptoms. They call it the Cool Suit. The Cool Suit contains a web of tubes that circulate chilled water. NASA is trying to quantify what happens to a body -- both a healthy body and a body with MS -- when you cool it.
Tad Savage is a Cool Suit test subject. "It's like sitting in a tub of water that's slightly cool, kind of refreshing, but not uncomfortable at all," he says. Bernadette Luna is the project manager for the MS Technology Transfer Program at NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. "It's very unfortunate that people who are afflicted with this disease don't even know that they have this treatment available to them, and that it might be beneficial," says Bernadette. "It's not a cure. It's a treatment."
Before the Cool Suit, Teri could barely touch her fingers together. After 30 minutes of wearing the suit, she could. "The first day I was up with my kids," says Teri. "That was really the best thing, being able to be outside and play with my children." For Teri, the suit gives her a new lease on life.
NASA is evaluating a number of commercially available Cool Suits. The study is a joint project between NASA, Lockheed Martin and the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America. There are Cool Suits available to the public. To find out more, contact the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America at 1-800-LEARN-MS (1-800-532-7667). If you would like more information, please contact:
Bernadette Luna NASA Ames Research Center Mail Stop 239-15 Moffett Field, CA 94035-1000 (650) 604-5250 Multiple Sclerosis Association of America National Headquarters 706 Haddonfield Rd. Cherry Hill, NJ 08002 (800) LEARN-MS (800) 532-7667