June 26, 2003
Clinical Programs Department
The results of a clinical trial of cooling therapy by the NASA/MS Cooling Study Group have been published in Neurology (2003; 60:1955-1960). Although the study was originally designed as a placebo-controlled study of the effects of cooling on neurologic function, the placebo (sham cooling) group received sufficient cooling to produce a significant change in body temperature. As a result, the study did not have a true placebo group with which to compare the effects of cooling treatment. Both the high-dose and low-dose cooling conditions resulted in some change in body temperature, as well as in motor and visual functions, with no significant differences found between the two groups. Without a true placebo condition, it is impossible to determine the extent to which any improvement resulted from cooling vs. placebo effects.
While this study did not provide convincing evidence for the benefits
of cooling, the results are suggestive of positive outcomes from such kinds
of therapies. Based on this and previous studies, as
well as a significant amount of anecdotal support for various kinds of
cooling strategies, Aaron Miller, M.D., the Society’s Chief Medical Office,
continues to view cooling techniques as a possible intervention for those
who find them beneficial. More practical than the cumbersome cooling
system utilized in this study however, are such strategies as air conditioning,
cool showers, cold drinks, and cooling garments, which are relatively inexpensive
and have few, if any, adverse effects.
© 2003 The National Multiple Sclerosis Society