Overheating is commonly experienced by those with sweating dysfunction, such as Spinal Cord Injuries, Multiple Sclerosis, Cerebral Palsy and other neurological conditions as well as an inability to sweat because of certain medicines. Factors such as thermal stress are known to influence human performance and effectiveness, both psychologically and physiologically. Throughout the day, the body uses four mechanisms of heat exchange to maintain homeostasis: conduction, convection, radiation and evaporation. A sweating dysfunction, however, means there can be no evaporation heat loss. WheelAir was made to accelerate the remaining heat exchange mechanisms to help compensate and give you full control over your thermoregulatory feedback mechanisms.
Overheating puts you at a high risk of developing heat fatigue or heatstroke. Other symptoms include muscle spasms, heat-induced seizures and nausea. One of our users once explained: “Overheating feels as if I’m driving at 100mph on the motorway but then my engine breaks down while the car keeps going and can’t stop.”
Once the overheating process has started, it will take much longer to cool back down, which is why we focus on preventing it altogether.
Our users have reported that they turn WheelAir on in the morning to avoid becoming tired at work or having muscle spasms. With our moulded seating solution we have feedback from several users that their heat-induced seizures have stopped.
What does this mean for exercise?
Lots of academic research has focused on pre-cooling and the effect on performance during exercise activity for those with a Spinal Cord Injury. Pre-cooling means starting the exercise with a lower-body temperature to slow down the process of reaching a critical limiting core temperature which contributes to fatigue. Studies show that precooling of athletes with SCI effectively reduces the effect of an increase in core body temperature during exercise. However, the cooling strategy is important, as a sharp decrease in skin, core or muscle temperature prior exercise could have a detrimental effect on performance.
The studies show that once exercise has commenced, the temperature of the body will keep rising for a certain period, even after exercise has stopped. Similarities were found during post-exercise WheelAir tests. When turning the WheelAir on after 30 minutes of exercise, the cooling down of the body after 3 minutes came to 3.16% compared to a 7.14% decrease when using the WheelAir before any exercise. This again reiterates the push for using the WheelAir from the start of the day, increasing and decreasing the fan speed where necessary but avoiding the heat and moisture build-up.