One of the most dangerous things about daily life with a spinal cord injury is the inability to no longer relegated one's body temperature. For anyone with a T7 injury or above, they typically lose the ability to relegate their body temperature after their injury. This is because the brain is no longer able to communicate with the part of the spinal cord that communicates with the sweat glands.
As a result, people with spinal cord injuries affected by this are in danger of overheating whenever the temperatures rise. Overheating can occur quite quickly for people with paralysis. In temperatures over 90° in the sun, it is possible to overheat in less than 30 minutes. People with spinal cord injuries, however, do not have to miss out on the summer fun. With the right products and tricks, you can stay cool in the heat. Read on for our top 10 list of stay-cool methods post-spinal cord injury below.
Gatorade, one of the most iconic drinks for athletes, is also one of the best things to drink if you're paralyzed and planning on spending time in the heat. Staying hydrated is one of the best things you can do to stay cool in the heat, even if you have a spinal cord injury and cannot sweat. It will give your body the advantage it needs to stay as cool as possible.
9. Electric Mister
Electric misters are a great way to stay cool because they mimic sweat, with fan cooling down the skin like air conditioning. It is also easy to keep one on a wheelchair. The only drawback is that these require a lot of battery power. There are dozens of different electric misters available on Amazon, Walmart, and Target. Search around to find one you like best. Make sure to find one that’s easy to hold if you have dexterity issues.
8. Bandana Ice Pack
Ice can be a great way, of course, to cool down, but a smart way to apply it to the body on someone with paralysis is on the temples. There are bandanas available with inserts that hold ice. These bandannas are a lifesaver for many people in extreme heat. While these work great, they do require ice on a continual basis which can be tricky if you plan on being outside for a while. Bring extra ice with you if possible.
7. Cooling Vest
Cooling vests are an invention in the last few years that have changed the game for many people with paralysis wanting to spend several hours outside an extreme heat. Steele Cooling Vests are a well-known brand of cooling vests, but there are others out there that work just as good. Cooling vests work by adding ice packs to the entirety of the vest, which encases your core in ice and cools your body down quick.
6. Snap Chill Neck Rags
Cool rags go by many names, but they are now almost seen on every person spending time outside these days. It is a rag made of a cooling material that is dipped in water then placed around the neck. These cooling rags offer a low-cost, easy and fast way to get instantly cool thanks to the cod rag being placed on important arteries in the neck.
5. Pressurized Hand Sprayer
If going with a hand mister that doesn't require batteries sounds enticing, then a pressurized hand sprayer is the product for you. These can also be purchased on Amazon and are a pump system spray bottle. The cooling nature of the spray, when combined with the wind, can help people with paralysis cool down effectively.
4. Visor or Hat
Don't forget the simple power of a hat or visor. Keeping the sun off your face can do a lot in the battle of keeping cool in the heat with a spinal cord injury. Always keep one on your person in case it is needed.
3. Specialty Clothes That Regulate Body Temp
There is clothing that has the ability to help your body temperature regulate. One of the most well-known brands comes from Uniqlo. They have their Airsm Collection that is made from smart, breathable fabric that releases heat and moisture while you're wearing it, giving it the uncanny ability to adapt to any whether the condition you may be in. For people with spinal cord injuries at overheat, having this kind of clothing on will give you just one more level a precaution that can't hurt. UNIQLO AIRISM
2. Ice Packs
When in a pinch or to simply save money, and never underestimate the power of a simple ice pack wrapped in a washcloth and placed directly on the skin. When in a dangerous overheating situation, ice/ice packs in any way shape or form can help cool you quickly.
1. Freezer Section at Stores
If you are in your vehicle and are overheating, especially in cases of broken air conditioning, try going to your nearest grocery store or big box stores like Target or Wal-Mart and head directly to the freezer section. Open up the freezer doors and let the cool air billow out onto your body. This very cool air can help your body cool down quickly when in a scary situation.
We advise you to be vigilant this summer and do not push yourself when in warm weather situations. The allure of the beach may be great, but if you find yourself in the ER, it is never worth it. And remember - a simple umbrella can do wonders by acting as a sunshade. And if you cannot hold it, try duct taping it to your chair.
Written by Spinal Cord TeamSpinalCord.com has been created as a resource for patients of spinal cord injuries and their families. Find everything you need to learn more about your injury, locate a doctor or treatment center, or discover financial relief to support you through this difficult time.
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