Stories of the Finnish Arctic Expertise
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The idea of Amandan was born out of the clouds: instead of going ice swimming you can take a cold mist shower

According to research cold therapy can relieve stress and improve the quality of life. Cold therapy eases pain and helps muscles recover. Panu Vapaavalta has developed a cold mist treatment that can be used in every bathroom.

The winter in the Finnish Lapland is long, dark and cold. The locals have been fighting against cold weather for centuries.

Now one of them has started to fight for the cold. He would like to bring cold therapy to every human being, turn coldness into a product, because studies show that cold therapy brings health.

Panu Vapaavalta, the inventor of Amandan cold mist treatment, believes that if the health benefits of cold could be packed into pills, the pills would already be available internationally.

”Up till now cold treatment has mainly been an unpleasant experience. That doesn’t need to be the case”, Vapaavalta says. 

The solution to the problem proposed by Vapaavalta is a cold treatment method that can be attached to the shower of every household. The stainless steel tubes disperse cold water into mist particles. The mist treats muscle pain and, according to studies, also relieves stress.

A heavenly idea 

When Vapaavalta left Helsinki for the Finnish Lapland, his first assignment was to commercialise the Finnish sauna.

”I wanted to include cold treatment in the sauna concept, but exporting cold tubs is difficult, and no one was excited about that.”

Vapaavalta let the idea evolve.

He has practiced ice swimming since the 1990s and is a strong believer in the health benefits of cold. Cold treatment helps recovery from exercise and after cold treatment both the body and the mind feel good, relaxed.

One day in 2011 Vapaavalta, a keen aviator, was flying a small aircraft from Rovaniemi to Kittilä, and on a whim he put his finger out of the small vent window. He had an idea. Could fine mist solve the problem of cooling the human body? What if a hole in the ice would no longer be necessary, but all the benefits of ice swimming could be brought to regular apartments?

Vapaavalta flew back to Rovaniemi and contacted the Foundation for Finnish Inventions. A long period of testing and research began. 

The testing was still ongoing in the Arctic Power laboratory located in Rovaniemi, when Vapaavalta was lying on the sofa on his summer cabin in Kuusamo and reading women’s magazine Gloria. There was a story on the health benefits of ice swimming, and the name Pirkko Huttunen, docent of thermobiology, was mentioned. 

Vapaavalta realised that Huttunen was exactly what he needed – a person with decades of experience in cold therapy research. The health benefits of cryotherapy are not mentioned often enough, and our knowledge of the effects of cold temperatures is lacking, Vapaavalta thinks.

Pirkko Huttunen is a Finnish researcher who was ahead of her time. Her name is mentioned in connection of almost every article discussing the health benefits of ice swimming. She has talked about the benefits of ice swimming and cryotherapy long before others. According to Huttunen regular exposure to cold strengthens the body defence mechanism and improves resistance. 

Vapaavalta picked up the phone and finally reached Huttunen. Huttunen gave a new meaning to Vapaavalta’s cold treatment device; health benefits.

The results of the tests of the low temperature laboratory finally proved that when the droplet size and the composition of water are just right, mist can be an extremely effective method for cold treatment.

No compromising on quality

Vapaavalta now had the method and the research to support it, but he still did not have the device.

It should be sophisticated. It should last from one generation to another, and it should not be made of plastic that damages the environment.

”I am a stickler for quality, and at this point things got a little out of hand”, he says.

The design of the device started with designer Harri Koskinen. Koskinen’s assignment was as follows: Design the best device money can buy. 

In the end the device was made of acid-proof stainless steel. It is supposed to last from one generation to another, almost indefinitely. Vapaavalta also wanted the device to be manufactured and assembled in Finland.

The current version consists of some forty different components made by several domestic subcontractors. The devices are assembled in Suutarila in Helsinki. The company is located in Rovaniemi.

Simultaneously with the design process, the patent applications for the device were submitted.
Applying for a patent is a long and expensive process for the inventor, and patents have to be applied for in each country separately. After 18 months Amandan was granted methods patents in Finland, Japan and Singapore. The product was launched in 2016.

Cold eases pain

The device developed from Vapaavalta’s idea of cold mist is currently being used by patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. The Finnish National Ski Team uses the method for recovery. The device is also in use in the Finnish Army and in the Finnish National Ballet.  

Next Vapaavalta hopes to see his device used by regular people in their homes.

He wants people to understand what a resource cold is and what kind of invention they can get in their bathrooms. It is no longer necessary to drive to the hole in the ice for ice swimming.

”We should talk more about the health benefits of Amandan and of exposure to cold in general.”

According to Vapaavalta the method is also beneficial to stressed people whose life is a bit too hectic.

According to research cold also adds to the amount of brown fat in the body. Brown fat tissue is good fat, and unlike regular white fat, it works as insulation in cold water and helps to keep the body warm.

In addition to people the cold therapy method is also being tested on horses.

Vapaavalta has succeeded in his objective to commercialise cold therapy in such a way that the company no longer needs him; things are working out and people are improving their health in their own bathrooms with cold mist, and he is no longer needed to herald the idea.

He hopes that the method can eventually improve the quality of life for millions of people.

That is not the easiest task in the world.

”Like the rapper Elastinen sings ’if it were easy, everyone would be doing it’”, Vapaavalta says.

Company website: www.amandan.fi 

Text: Anna Ruohonen
Photography: Studio Artica 

 
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