Laboratory for Exercise and Environmental Medicine
For many years we have been specifically studying the efficacy of various treatments for accidental hypothermia. We have recently developed a human model for severe non-shivering hypothermia which will be used to compare many treatments that may be important for victims who have lost the ability to rewarm spontaneously by their own shivering heat production.

We will also be studying the events that occur immediately after removing subjects from cold water immersion. The temperature, metabolic, and blood chemistry changes will be monitored in order to better understand the mechanisms for rewarming collapse (rewarming shock) that often occurs after victims are rescued from cold stress.

Finally, we are studying the adaptive responses to sustained exercise in extreme cold environments. Portable data acquisition systems are being developed to measure physiological responses throughout 2-3 week expeditions and pre- and post-expedition measurements are used to indicate the adaptive effects on local and whole body responses to cold stress tests. The portable data acquisition systems have great potential for non-invasively monitoring responses of large groups of people (e.g. during scientific or military operations) in extreme conditions.

The laboratory is equipped with an environmental chamber, immersion tanks, and restraints for tethered swimming. We measure metabolism, heat transfer, and cardiovascular variables, as well as quantify thermoregulatory responses such as sweat rate, shivering, and cutaneous or whole limb blood flow.

Specific Topics

  • Modelling of severe hypothermia and rewarming methods
  • Effect of non-thermal factors (e.g. hypoxia, body composition, parmacological agents) on human thermoregulation
  • Quantification of shivering endurance and fatigue
  • Assessing the effects of a cold environment on physical and mental performance
  • Development and/or testing of clinical/field products
  • Computer modelling of physiologic and thermal responses to environmental stress