Cooling Caps Bring Comfort to Chemotherapy Patients at UPMC Northwest

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The Amma™ by Cooler Heads is a portable, FDA-cleared, patient-administered cooling cap. Photo courtesy Cooler Heads.

One of the greatest stressors for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy is the side effect of hair loss. A new therapy available at UPMC Northwest aims to alleviate some of this anxiety by protecting hair from the effects of chemo.

Amma™ by Cooler Heads is a portable, FDA-cleared, patient-administered cooling cap which lowers scalp temperature to 65 degrees before, during, and after chemotherapy. Cooling reduces blood flow to hair follicles and minimizes the amount of chemo drugs reaching hair roots, helping preserve hair and decrease the severity of hair loss.

Amma™ cooling caps also help regulate overall body temperature and prevent overheating. Patients who use cooling caps report feeling more relaxed and less anxious during treatments. Because the caps are designed to be lightweight, patients can wear them comfortably for extended periods.

Shannon Penland, MD, specializes in oncology, hospice, and palliative medicine at UPMC Northwest. She emphasizes the psychological and emotional benefits of patients retaining their hair. “This equipment empowers patients by giving them some control over their circumstances. Preventing hair loss can help people in treatment maintain their sense of self during a difficult time in their lives,” said Dr. Penland. “We make sure all patients in our cancer center are aware this therapy is available to them.”

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center at UPMC Northwest is proud to be the only cancer center in Northwestern Pennsylvania currently offering cooling cap therapy. “This is a game-changer for patient-centered care at UPMC Northwest,” said Dr. Penland.

The cooling caps were made possible by the Northwest Hospital Foundation. To learn more, contact the Northwest Hospital Foundation at (814) 676-7145 or

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