Thermoregulatory Influence of a Cooling Vest on Hyperthermic Athletes

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Athletic trainers must have sound evidence for the best practices in treating and preventing heat-related emergencies and potentially catastrophic events.


To examine the effectiveness of a superficial cooling vest on core body temperature (Tc) and skin temperature (Tsk) in hypohydrated hyperthermic male participants.


A randomized control design with 2 experimental groups.


Participants exercised by completing the heat-stress trial in a hot, humid environment (ambient temperature  =  33.1 ± 3.1°C, relative humidity  =  55.1 ± 8.9%, wind speed  =  2.1 ± 1.1 km/hr) until a Tc of 38.7 ± 0.3°C and a body mass loss of 3.27 ± 0.1% were achieved.

Patients or Other Participants:

Ten healthy males (age  =  25.6 ± 1.6 years, mass  =  80.3 ± 13.7 kg).


Recovery in a thermoneutral environment wearing a cooling vest or without wearing a cooling vest until Tc returned to baseline.

Main Outcome Measure(s):

Rectal Tc, arm Tsk, time to return to baseline Tc, and cooling rate.


During the heat-stress trial, Tc significantly increased (3.6%) and, at 30 minutes of recovery, Tc had decreased significantly (2.6%) for both groups. Although not significant, the time for return to baseline Tc was 22.6% faster for the vest group (43.8 ± 15.1 minutes) than for the no-vest group (56.6 ± 18.0 minutes), and the cooling rate for the vest group (0.0298 ± 0.0072°C/min) was not significantly different from the cooling rate for the no-vest group (0.0280 ± 0.0074°C/min). The Tsk during recovery was significantly higher (2.1%) in the vest group than in the no-vest group and was significantly lower (7.1%) at 30 minutes than at 0 minutes for both groups.


We do not recommend using the cooling vest to rapidly reduce elevated Tc. Ice-water immersion should remain the standard of care for rapidly cooling severely hyperthermic individuals.


This article was originally published in Journal of Athletic Training, volume 43, issue 1, in 2008. DOI: 10.4085/1062-6050-43.1.55

Peer Reviewed



National Athletic Trainers' Association, Inc.