James Shutt

Member Article

Colostomy makeover to transform lives

A Northumbria University student has taken fashion into medical territory by designing a range of body jewellery, modified lingerie and technical adaptations to enhance the aesthetic appeal and function of colostomy bags.

James Shutt, a final year Design for Industry degree student, has developed MyOstomy, a series of design interventions aimed at improving the quality of life for colostomy bag users.

The 23-year-old, originally from Herefordshire, was inspired to develop design solutions for colostomy-related medical products after contacting young users on online support forums and hearing about the difficulties they encountered in everyday life.

A colostomy is a surgical procedure in which a stoma, or opening, is formed by drawing the healthy end of the large intestine or colon into the abdominal wall. This opening provides an alternative channel for faeces to leave the body, which is collected in disposable colostomy bags attached to the stoma.

James discovered that colostomy users can struggle with sexual intimacy and body consciousness, as well as more practical issues such as the colostomy bag inflating with wind, or concerns about leaving their spare bags and cleaning kits behind.

To address these problems, James has developed a jewellery stoma plug and seal that fits into the stoma and prevents faeces coming out while a user is having sexual intercourse, therefore taking away the indignity and inconvenience of wearing a full colostomy bag. The plug – which features interchangeable jewelled heads – can be worn by the user for roughly an hour and a half before needing to be emptied. The seal worn around the stoma has an integrated evacuating bag used with the stoma plug that is on hand to capture any bowel evacuations in the unlikely event that the plug pops out during sex.

For female colostomy bag users, James developed a decorative rosette-style bag cover with matching lingerie to transform the colostomy bag into an attractive, delicate and feminine feature.

James also developed technical alterations to the colostomy bag, including a manual vent that can release gas to prevent ballooning underneath clothing, and a redesign that enables the bag to fill without bulging outwards. An emergency condom-sized hermetically sealed colostomy bag pack with two antiseptic wipes has also been created to be kept inside wallets, pockets and purses.

Finally, MyOstomy plays with the concept of decorating the stoma site with body art and tattoos making an attractive feature of the site and enabling people to embrace their stoma.

James said: “Prior to my research into this particular medical product, I had assumed that stomas were something that only affected elderly people. When I talked to users I was struck by the fact that many of them were people my age. It got me thinking about how I would cope and deal with this issue. That was the driver for my designs.

“I thought about how I would cope when going on dates and meeting new people. I even wore one for a few days to help get into the mindset of how it might impact on daily activities.

“I came up with small changes to the bag that might increase the users quality of life by tackling the main issues that were raised during my research – the colostomy bags inflating with gas, which can cause leaks or blow-offs and causes the bag to protrude through clothing; the user being caught short without a spare bag to change into; the user feeling unattractive during intimate moments with their partner; and the user feeling that the stoma site was visually unappealing.”

Howard Fenwick, Senior Lecturer in Three Dimensional Design, said: “Never one to shy away from a tricky subject, James launched himself head long into the most complex and emotive of subject areas. His intervention brings fashion to what has been a mundane, but essential, medical accessory while retaining the necessary functionality that ensures his design will be welcomed by all.

“A colostomy pouch wearer welcomed James’ design proposals with the remark that he ‘wished such products had been available long ago when he was much younger’.”

James is currently sharing his design ideas with a leading colostomy product manufacturer. A spokesperson said: “This project is very inspiring. We are impressed by its creativity and sensitivity in such a difficult area.”

James’ design will be on display atReveal 2012– Northumbria University’s end of year Design degree show from June 21-29 at the School of Design, City Campus East. It will later be on show at New Designers 2012, from July 4-7 at the Business Design Centre in London.

Reveal 2012 is open to the public and includes the work of over 300 graduating design students from a range of design disciplines that include Fashion, Design for Industry, Motion Graphics & Animation, Transportation Design and Interior Design. A selection of work from several postgraduate design courses will also be on show.

Entry is free and doors will be open between 9am and 5pm.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Shirley Morgan .

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