Seatbelt Safety with Ileostomy: Fact or Fiction?

Apr 26, 2015 9:22 pm

I have been recently told that seatbelts and ileostomies do not mix. In a serious accident, you would bleed out so fast that it would be all over quickly-- This was from a very reputable medical person.

I know I find the belt most uncomfortable as I have an ileostomy and do the driving, thus the hook is on my right side. I was told that cushions or a small pillow will not help in an accident bad enough that the airbag deploys. Does anyone have any info on this???

Thank you--

Apr 26, 2015 9:32 pm

I don't buy it. I also have a right-side ileostomy, and I can move the belt around so it doesn't interfere with the bag or stoma. But, I am not a professional, and thankfully have not been in a serious car accident. I would check with an ostomy nurse or a different doctor if you can't better adjust the seat belt for your particular stoma.

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Apr 27, 2015 3:10 am

Here's something to consider, Ewesful. When you're travelling without a seatbelt at 50 km/h in a vehicle that hits something and stops, your body will continue travelling at 50 km/h until it hits something that stops it. I would much rather have my stomach injured by a seatbelt than find myself ejected from the vehicle like the woman in this PSA:

Apr 30, 2015 12:52 am

Wow, that was some sad video. Stomaplex says their ostomy guard is "intended to protect the stoma from external contact caused by things like clothes and seatbelts". Here is the link to the site if you would like to read more about their guard.

Apr 30, 2015 6:43 am

Thanks for the info Mrs. A — the Stomaplex looks like a good design. Another option for those who can't afford the Stomaplex, and who live in Canada, is to phone Convatec and ask them for their free sports shield.

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May 02, 2015 1:41 pm

Oh, I am all too well aware of the value of a seatbelt. That is a good video clip for sure. I am also excited about the shield. I will be passing the info on. I did check further and the rupture can most definitely happen and is an issue that we need to know about. Thank you for the replies and help.

May 06, 2015 1:19 am

Here in Ontario, Canada, you can get a doctor's note to show a police officer that you are exempt from wearing a seatbelt, but I wouldn't take a chance on driving without a seatbelt. In some vehicles, you are able to lock the seatbelt into place so it doesn't get tighter, and therefore the lower part of the belt will leave some room. Also, I heard sometime ago that it is possible to just have the shoulder strap and not the lap belt, but I'm not too sure about the Highway Traffic Act in regards to that. I drive a 5-ton truck and deliver paper and print supplies to print shops for the past 25 years, and I have had an ileostomy for 39 years, and I never encountered a problem with wearing a seatbelt.

May 06, 2015 1:29 pm

Successful, I'm 20+ years with a colostomy (yes, left side) and my GP agrees that there is a distinct risk of serious damage to the stoma in a crash where a seat belt is in use (I have a note from him which I carry with me in both cars). I have also noticed issues related to chafing and irritation at the site. I found that after about an hour of driving, the seatbelt would cause a blockage (as the waste simply could not exit my stoma with the seatbelt in place). During longer trips, the discomfort from the blockages would be moderate to severe!

As for adjusting the seatbelt, this simply doesn't work: the seatbelt is designed to cross the hip/lap and thus the region of the stoma, so, to place it higher or lower would certainly cause damage (see owners' manuals on proper seatbelt use)!

I live in Ontario, Canada and get all of my supplies from Shoppers Home Health (who specialize in ostomy care). I have asked the staff and queried a supervisor on this topic but they could not locate any workarounds for my issue. I will ping Convatec to see about Stomaplex.

This is a very personal decision which I've researched and made with my family understanding the potential risks. The ultimate decision rested on the likelihood of damage to the stoma at relatively low speeds (where the edge of the seatbelt might be under the stoma), given the absence of nerves in the stoma it's likely that you wouldn't know you'd been seriously injured. This sort of stop/start driving happens frequently while driving around so the concern, in my mind, isn't about during crashes.

The only time I wear a seatbelt is when I'm flying as I don't want to become a "missile" whenever there's turbulence ...

Do your own research and ask a million questions as there are no experts on the topic!

Good luck.

May 06, 2015 1:55 pm

I think a doctor's note will not work if you do not have your seat belt on... even showing it to a policeman... he may let you go, but I doubt it... you need to get an exemption from the license bureau... I know... it happened to me... I got the ticket... so send the doctor's note to them first... and then get the exemption...

May 06, 2015 1:56 pm

Eweseful, I just visited the Convatec site and reviewed the information regarding Stomaplex. Here are a few questions which I would ask of Convatec, "in writing", before contemplating use of their product to protect your stoma from seatbelt damage, (as I think that there will be fine print about collision injuries caused by Stomaplex *): 1) Is the covering material shatterproof (so that during a collision, my stoma will not be subjected to incremental damage by sharp plastic)? 2) Is the covering material crushproof so that the seatbelt cannot press the cover into my stoma during a collision or fast stop? 3) Does the shield move at all (I'd be very concerned that with any sideways or up/down movement, the edges of the shield might create discomfort or damage to my stoma)?

After my surgery, I resumed playing goal in old-timers ice hockey on one proviso: I redesigned my goalie's protector (jockstrap) to include a piece of fiberglass over top of my stoma. Without this firmly in place, I was terrified of a skate cut to my stoma leaving me bleeding without knowledge of the injury! My point, here, is: whereas the jockstrap manufacturer never guaranteed their product, I can assure you that Convatec has fine print to protect themselves * in the event that their product is involved in something for which it was not specifically designed/intended. Stomaplex is clearly intended to keep your belt off the stoma: I VERY much doubt that it is in any way intended to protect against emergency stops when the seatbelt engages!

May 06, 2015 6:02 pm

I've never seen a stoma situated low on the hip bones where a lap belt is supposed to be — a belt that contacts the stoma is crossing too high on the abdomen.

A seatbelt must be positioned properly, even if a person doesn't have a stoma, otherwise the seatbelt itself will cause injuries during a crash. Some insurance companies will not accept an injury claim if the seatbelt was not adjusted properly:

The shoulder belt must cross the midpoint of the shoulder and not be against the neck, and the lap belt must be low across the hips and never across the abdomen — the person should sit on a pillow if this is necessary to raise the body enough so the lap belt crosses low on the hips. The back of the seat must be as vertical as possible to minimize the likelihood of sliding under the seatbelt (submarining) after a crash.

On another note, a driver needs to be at least 10 inches away from the airbag module in the center of the steering wheel, and a front seat passenger at least 14 inches away from the airbag module in the dash.

May 22, 2018 3:12 am

I use a horseshoe pillow, the ones you are supposed to use for your neck!

Jun 14, 2018 1:46 pm

Interesting topic. I have a left hand side stoma and as I like to sit high in my SUV. It is not a problem. However, when I am a passenger in my husband's car, I use a small slightly firm pillow across my tummy with the seatbelt on top. It seems to work well. Having said that, I have not, touch wood, had to test it in accident conditions or a couple of sudden stops. That was okay. Here in Florida, I am exempt from wearing a seatbelt, but given some of our whacky drivers, I would never risk it.

Past Member
Sep 24, 2018 3:03 pm

My vehicle has a seatbelt, once locked in, you cannot adjust it. I have a chemo port, as well as my baggage. I obtained a 1-year seat belt waiver from the state. I now drive by officers, and they keep going. In fact, it was a state trooper who informed me about the waiver. On the interstate, I do put the shoulder part on, but not the lap belt. If that confuses some of you, my lap belt is connected, so my car won't beep every 60 seconds. I also advised my insurance company about the waiver. They said I am legit. As far as my stoma, I am so legit, I refuse to quit!!!