Effects of liquid cooling garments on recovery and performance time in individuals performing strenuous work wearing a firefighter ensemble

Jung-Hyun Kim, Aitor Coca, W Jon Williams, Raymond J Roberge
Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene 2011, 8 (7): 409-16
This study investigated the effects of body cooling using liquid cooling garments (LCG) on performance time (PT) and recovery in individuals wearing a fully equipped prototype firefighter ensemble (PFE) incorporating a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA). Six healthy male participants (three firefighters and three non-firefighters) completed six experimental sessions in an environmental chamber (35°C, 50% relative humidity), consisting of three stages of 15 min exercise at 75% VO2max, and 10 min rest following each exercise stage. During each session, one of the following six conditions was administered in a randomized order: control (no cooling, CON); air ventilation of exhaust SCBA gases rerouted into the PFE (AV); top cooling garment (TCG); TCG combined with AV (TCG+AV); a shortened whole body cooling garment (SCG), and SCG combined with AV (SCG+AV). Results showed that total PT completed was longer under SCG and SCG+AV compared with CON, AV, TCG, and TCG+AV (p<0.01). Magnitude of core temperature (Tc) elevation was significantly decreased when SCG was utilized (p<0.01), and heart rate recovery rate (10 min) was enhanced under SCG, SCG+AV, TCG, and TCG+AV compared with CON (p<0.05). Estimated Esw rate (kg·h(-1)) was the greatest in CON, 1.62 (0.37), and the least in SCG+AV 0.98 (0.44): (descending order: CON>AV>TCG=TCG+AV>SCG>SCG+AV) without a statistical difference between the conditions (p<0.05). Results of the present study suggest that the application of LCG underneath the PFE significantly improves the recovery during a short period of rest and prolongs performance time in subsequent bouts of exercise. LCG also appears to be an effective method for body cooling that promotes heat dissipation during uncompensable heat stress.

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