BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Aerobic exercise is thought to help persons
with multiple sclerosis fight fatigue, the most common symptom of
the disease. Yet as the body heats up during exercise, it
compromises the ability of people with MS to exercise and they
become fatigued sooner.
New research at UB will investigate if cooling the body before
or during exercise allows persons with MS to exercise longer, and
which method is most effective. The study also will determine the
effects of a 12-week aerobic exercise program on fitness, core and
skin temperature, and heat flux in MS patients.
The study is funded by a $449,999 grant from the National
Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, U.S. Dept. of
"Exercise is good for MS, but it must be done correctly," said
lead investigator Nadine Fisher, Ed.D., clinical associate
professor of rehabilitation science in the UB School of Public
Health and Health Professions. Carl Granger, M.D., UB professor of
rehabilitation science, is co-investigator.
"Exercise can build up strength and endurance, reduce depression
and increase physical activity levels," she said. "We are trying to
find out how to reduce the exercise limitations MS places on
The study will involve 60 persons with MS and will be conducted
in two phases. During the first phase, which will comprise four
weeks, each participant will exercise under a different cooling
condition each week to determine how different cooling methods
affect exercise performance, core and skin temperature and heat
The conditions are no cooling; cooling before exercise by
wearing a specially designed, temperature-controlled cooling vest;
cooling during exercise while wearing the vest, and cooling using a
method of their choosing other than the vest.
Before each condition, participants will swallow a "temperature
pill" (ingestible thermal monitoring system), a plastic,
vitamin-pill-sized sensor developed for NASA that transmits
temperature readings to an external monitor as it travels through
During the 12-week second phase, participants will be assigned
randomly to one of three groups: an aerobic exercise program with
cooling, an aerobic exercise program without cooling, or no
exercise, which will serve as the control group. The program will
be conducted three days a week for an hour, with built-in rest
periods. The control group will be contacted by phone every two
weeks to provide social interaction with the patients.
Fisher said she hopes to show that cooling can help persons with
MS increase their exercise capacity, and that an aerobic exercise
program can improve their functioning and fitness levels.
"Positive results of our study would lead to a better
understanding of the possibilities of cooling treatment and
exercise rehabilitation for these individuals so that they can
safely become more physically active," said Fisher.
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive
public university, the largest and most comprehensive campus in the
State University of New York.