In the medical area, PCM can be used for very different applications, some examples will be given here. The use of PCM for the temperature control of drugs, vaccines, etc. during transport will not be addressed because of the more detailed information in the section transport / logistics.
PCM are ideal for purposeful warming or cooling of individual body parts. When ice packs are used for cooling, there is a risk of local hypothermia. This risk can be eliminated by using PCM as cooling agent. The melting point is picked at a temperature that efficiently cools but is too high for causing undesired side effects. This makes PCM the optimal basis for cooling applications for example after surgery or for accident care.
PCM have been used in heat therapy for many years. Physiotherapists and hospitals use them to treat sub-acute and chronic rheumatic conditions, post-acute conditions after traumas of the musculoskeletal system, or functional disorders of the circulation system. The powders that are packed in heat cushions are a clean and easy to disinfect alternative to fango packs.
PCM are also used in blankets and sleeping bags to prevent the body from hypothermia. This is important in preparation for surgery or premature baby care for example where passive means for temporary temperature control are preferred.
One last example demonstrates how large the spectrum of possible PCM applications in the medical area is: increasing the wearing comfort of orthoses and prostheses. The PCM are specifically used to reduce perspiration where limb and orthosis/prosthesis are connected. PCM with a melting point close to body temperature are used that can delay a temperature increase for a long time.