If a tub isn’t available, a recently published study suggests that a tarp could work just as well for athletes who are suffering from exertional heat stroke. Although this method has been used in several settings, including by the military and Boston Marathon, this is the first study of its effectiveness.
“Many times in the field, we use modalities that may not be evidence-based at first,” Brendon McDermott, Associate Professor of Kinesiology at the University of Arkansas and director of the study, told ScienceBlog.com. “But it’s important to ensure validity in evidence-based clinical practice, which is why we tested the TACO method.”
The tarp-assisted cooling with oscillation—or TACO—method involves several people holding a plastic tarp up around the person who is suffering from heat stroke. The people who are holding the tarp bend their knees to keep the water moving, preventing warmth from building up near the person.
To test the method, the researchers recruited 16 participants to exercise in an environmental chamber until their body temperature raised to 102 degrees Fahrenheit. They did this twice—followed by the TACO method once and simply resting once.
The participants had at least one week between each exercise bout. The study’s results showed a significantly quicker treatment time compared to just rest.