Summer is heating up across the United States and our founder’s (Josh Basile) trip to Cuba last month, where it was 90 and sunny every day, has given us some great perspective on the important topic of staying cool after a spinal cord injury. If your injury is at the T4 level or above, and is complete your body is likely unable to sweat below your level of injury. Sometimes quadriplegics cannot even sweat above their level of injury even though they can sweat during an autonomic dysreflexia episode. This can lead to overheating and in extreme situations to a deadly heat stroke.
When you can’t sweat properly and you’re in a hot and humid environment – you will begin to overheat. This is because the signals from the skin detecting heat can no longer be sent to the brain, which if it could it would tell the skin to start sweating to help cool down the body. This term is called Poikilothermia and it’s like being cold-blooded.
Staying cool and preventing your core body temp moving past 98.6 is the name of the game. Ice packs draped around the neck, cooling towels, hand-held/wheelchair mounted fans, and water misters are all great tools to stay cool. AC and home fans of course are essential tools in this fight but if you must leave your home, car or other air-conditioned spots and venture out into the hot sun, you can’t go wrong with any of these cooling methods.
Neck Icepack Cooling Snap Towels
Clip-On Battery-Powered Fan Pump Sprayer
A quadriplegic friendly and very effective handheld mister is what our founder used while in Cuba (and with two other men with spinal cord injuries). Called the Flo-Master, this personal handheld mister is a favorite among quadriplegic rugby athletes for staying cool while on the court, especially if they’re playing outside and are in direct sunlight. It mimics sweat like a champ and you can add lots of ice.
Costing only $7, the Flo-Master was a lifesaver in Florida and Cuba for the guys. “We all started feeling the effects of the heat while in Key West. Before departing from Cuba we made a grocery run, and next to the grocery store was a Home Depot. Robby (quadriplegic) and Bruce swung by and made one of the best purchases ever,” Josh says. “They bought two of these spray bottles that Robby and his quad rugby teammates use all the time.”
And they did the two other essentials as well – staying hydrated and out of direct sunlight with the help of an umbrella. “Staying cool involved the sprayer and drinking lots of water and umbrellas. I broke out the umbrella all the time,” says Josh. “I used the sprayer on the boat and in my cabin where there was no air-conditioning too.” Purchase the Flo-Master or others like it here
Whether you’re going to Cuba or anywhere else where the weather is over 90°, just know that it can be done if you have a spinal cord injury as long as you’re prepared with the right game plan and tools.
How do you stay cool when you don’t have access to AC? Share your favorite in the comments below