Some ostomates have concerns about wearing a seat belt, while other ostomates have had problems while trying. The Ostomy Protector aims to help with this problem by providing a unique solution to protecting your stoma.
The nice people at Ostomy Protector were kind enough to send me this product for a review, and I’ve used it for over nine weeks (as of Nov 2016) to get a better understanding of how it would work in my daily life.
About the Ostomy Protector
The Ostomy Protector is made up of two foam blocks that are covered with fabric; the company refers to these as “pillows”.
These blocks are approx. 9cm (3.54″) wide by 13cm (5.12″) tall and are firm but not hard; these blocks are also 3cm (1.18″) thick.
Each block is joined by a strip of fabric that’s approximately 14cm (5.51″) in length; this helps to keep the blocks from separating too far from each other.
These blocks also have a Velcro loop on one side which allows them to be attached to a seat belt easily.
Because the blocks aren’t fixed to one another, you can easily spread them to fit properly over just about any shape and size of ostomy appliance; this even works if you wear your bag horizontally.
You can remove each foam block from the sleeve they are in (so you can easily wash the product).
The main function of the Ostomy Protector is to protect your stoma from seat belts. It does this by creating a buffer between your seat belt and stoma, but it does not protect your stoma directly (like a stoma guard would).
The advantage of this is that you don’t have to wear it wherever you go and you can keep it in your vehicle all the time.
Another advantage is that it does not interfere with the flow of your output like stoma guards can. This can be especially helpful if you’ve got thicker output and avoid stoma guards because of that.
If you travel, you can also bring it along to use on planes, taxis, or other vehicles with seat belts.
Why Even Use This?
It’s a fact that over 50% of people who’ve died in a motor vehicle accident in the United States were not wearing a seat belt (SOURCE).
I’m willing to bet that the percentage of ostomates who do not wear seat belts is even higher than the general public for several reasons:
- The belt may interfere with the appliance, making it uncomfortable to wear.
- The belt may go over the stoma, causing it to bleed or become damaged.
- Many ostomates experience leaks because their belt crushes their bag.
I would never want any of you to avoid wearing a seat belt because of these potential problems.
That’s why I use and recommend seat belt protectors like the Ostomy Protector.
Using the Ostomy Protector
To use it, you simply open the Velcro fasteners on the back of each block, place the blocks against your seat belt, then close the Velcro fasteners. You are free to adjust it after it’s on the belt.
Removing it is just as easy as you simply follow the instructions in reverse.
Alternatively, you can hang it off your pant belt to act as a stoma guard. I gave this a try a few times but found it to be quite clumsy and very bulky compared to using a regular stoma guard, so I wouldn’t recommend that this product be used solely for that purpose.
There’s no doubt that the Ostomy Protector does what it’s supposed to do.
I feel confident that my stoma is sufficiently protected, and it’s been able to accommodate my appliance regardless if I’m wearing it vertically or horizontally; tucked under my clothing or hanging out.
My biggest challenge is that Ostomy Protector is bulky.
I can live with the bulk for the most part, but I also like to leave it attached to my seat belt when I’m not driving, and it does get in the way when my wife is using the car.
Another concern is that when I’m wearing more than just a t-shirt, the bulk becomes even more obvious. This can be a problem because it makes using the product a bit uncomfortable.
In the winter time, especially here in Canada, coats are a must. Because of that, I would not recommend that you use this product over your coat as it may impact the usefulness of your seat belt.
Unfortunately, wearing it under a coat (at least a short coat where the seat belt goes under it) is impractical because of the bulk it creates. In this scenario you either drive without your coat on or skip using this product altogether (probably ok if your coat is providing enough “padding”).
This “coat problem” may exist with or without the product in place, and it’s been advised that bulky/puffy coats be taken off when wearing a seat belt.
Who Needs This and Who Doesn’t
This is definitely one of those products that can either help you or do absolutely nothing for you.
If you already wear a stoma guard, then you likely won’t need this at all. But if your seat belt rests over your stoma (and it bothers you), then the Ostomy Protector will certainly make things more comfortable for you while driving.
Your stoma placement, whether it protrudes much or not, your height/weight, as well as the type of clothing you wear are all factors to be considered when determining whether this product might be right for you.
I personally find seat belt protectors, such as the Ostomy Protector, to be more useful than not.
At the time of this writing (Nov 2016), the Ostomy Protector sells for US$29.95 plus shipping & handling. This is more expensive than other similar products, but it’s less expensive than most of the hard plastic stoma guards on the market.
These are also available for international delivery, which is a bonus if you can’t find a product like it in your country.
Like other accessories, this product will likely not be covered by insurance, but it’s an investment that should last you many years.
The Ostomy Protector can be a valuable addition to an ostomate’s accessory kit, but it’s not for everyone. If your stoma or appliance is often in the way of wearing your seat belt, then this would be worth checking out.
I can’t recommend it as a regular stoma guard (over your pants) because it’s too bulky and doesn’t offer direct protection from impact.