Multiple Sclerosis, Heat, and Exercise: How to Keep it Cool!

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the central nervous system affecting the immune system. There are a wide range of symptoms associated with MS including, but not limited to, fatigue, weakness, numbness and tingling, difficulty walking, cognitive changes, and emotional changes. Many persons with MS experience a temporary worsening of these symptoms with increases in temperature. While this may occur due to warmer weather, it is also important to know that a person’s core body temperature rising during activities like taking a hot shower or exercising may also lead to a temporary worsening of symptoms. While exercise is an integral component of managing MS symptoms, it may be difficult to perform due to these rises in core body temperature. Therefore, it is especially important to exercise in cooler environments, wear lightweight clothing, take rest breaks, hydrate, and use cooling garments as needed to maintain lower body temperatures. Cooling garments come in many forms such as vests, neck scarves, wrist wraps, ankle wraps, and foot wraps. These products use lightweight cooling packs that can stay cool for up to 4 hours. Please refer to the resource below for further information regarding cooling garment programs for persons with MS. Be sure to discuss any potential heat intolerance with your physical therapist to develop an appropriate cooling plan. We are here to keep your muscles warm and your bodies cool!

National MS Society Cooling Information and Vendor List

Dr. Kate Bellucci PT, DPT, MSCS

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Multiple Sclerosis Certified Specialist

LSVT BIG certified

Phone: 973-322-7389

E-mail: Katharine.bellucci@rwjbh.org

Kate is a physical therapist at RWJ Barnabas Ambulatory Care Center. She treats primarily patients with neurological conditions and patients with gait, balance, and endurance impairments. Kate completed her bachelor’s degree in science at Michigan State University in 2014 then went on to complete her doctorate in physical therapy at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, Illinois in 2018. She was granted the Multiple Sclerosis Rehabilitation Scholarship from the Consortium of MS Centers in 2019 and became a Multiple Sclerosis Certified Specialist and an LSVT BIG certified therapist in 2020. She serves as a member of the International Organization of Multiple Sclerosis Rehabilitation Professionals and the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers. She is from Somerville, NJ and still resides there with her husband, Eric and puppy, Lilly. When she is not working you will find her walking her dog, spending time with family and friends, or reading.

The Saint Barnabas Medical Center Rehabilitation centers are open and ready to help you achieve your goals. With four locations in West Orange, Millburn and Livingston, the experienced and compassionate staff at Saint Barnabas Rehabilitation offers adults and children the specialized care they need to resume an active life after surgery, injury or illness. They are committed to providing patients with the most advanced services in a safe, caring and soothing environment. For high-risk patients who are unable to visit in person, telehealth is an option. Patients do not need a prescription for physical therapy services.