When I was younger, I was injury-prone to an alarming degree. Casts, bandages, you name it – it seemed like every year, I had a new injury to “show off” at school.
Everyday things that we take for granted – like personal hygiene – go out the window, subjugated to the necessities of recovery.
When you’ve got a plaster cast on your leg, for example, showering is off the table, and bathing becomes an exercise in discomfort. And even if you wind up going to the pool or the beach, swimming is obviously right out. Worse still the old wet wipes come out!
I really wish that Buddy Covers had been around back then.
So, What’s a Buddy Cover?
Manufactured by a company calling itself QOL (for Quality of Life – aptly named, I think), buddy covers are a latex free, class 1A piece of medical equipment, designed to waterproof your limbs. Casts, plasters, bandages, adhesive pads, splints – you name it, if it’s not supposed to get wet, the buddy aims to be, well, your best mate.
Recently recognized by the UK Drug Tariff, these little buddies are now available on prescription from your doctor. If you want to get the isolated wound, or PICC line covers, you can get a prescription for them on your way out, though nothing’s stopping you from getting them off of Amazon (provided you live in the UK, that is).
They come in a couple different sizes, so if you don’t immediately see the range you’re looking for, it probably exists with a bit of searching. I’m not the smallest person in the world, so the full 50cm size is my likely size, but they make sizes all the way down to infant-scale; so make sure you’re getting something that’s going to fit; it probably exists.
A first look at the Buddy Covers
How Does it Work?
Well, it’s like putting on latex (or in this case, medical grade, non-latex material) gloves; there’s a bit of stretching. Basically, you work your way up the limb, until you’ve covered the requisite area, then you pull the corners down, making an airtight, watertight, smooth seal. If you’re heading into the shower, you’re set to go. If you’re going to be submerging the limb, there’s another step to it.
If you’re stepping into the bath, or heading into a pool – why yes, they’re rated to take to the pool – just place your limb in the water. This will cause the air to rise, and you’ll let it escape by tugging on the seal, making a nice, watertight seal. I’ll be honest; I never considered going swimming in a cast, but once the seal is on, you’re good to go.
Being orange you’re certainly not going to be missed, great for kids in crowded pools!
Do they leak?
In a word, no. They have quite a tight yet not uncomfortable fit. A lot of brands the elastic they use as a water guard or seal is not strong enough or painfully tight.
Buddy Cover Sizing
While they make a multitude of sizes, they’re not one size fits all – you’re going to need to take some measurements. Thankfully, it’s nothing to arduous; just taking a measuring tape around the meaty bit of the limb in question, about 4cm above the area you need to cover, noting the circumference in centimeters.
Grab the nearest size up; if you order something too small, it’s not going to stretch enough to fit, and you risk ripping it. While I found them to be pretty tough, if you try to stretch something farther than it can go, you risk ripping it; so remember to round up, not down when sizing.
Pros and Cons
So, I’ll come out and say it; it’s a big, yellow/orange sleeve. Subtlety is not its strong suit, and it does look a bit like you’re wearing a floppy balloon over your limb. The PICC models look a bit less silly, but only just. Even so, this isn’t a fashion accessory, and if you’ve already got a cast on, it’s not like you don’t already look a bit odd. But if you’re going to the pool, expect a couple chuckles.
Having said that, you can go to the pool with your cast on; people are more likely to be stunned that you’re actually going for a swim in the first place. For smaller dressings it’s perfect.
Your Best Buddy?
Look, if you’re in the market for one of these, the big question is: does it work? And the answer is a resounding “yes, quite well in fact.” For me, the ability to shower like a normal human is worth any amount of silliness; the independence coming from just being able to look after yourself normally is worth twice the price of admission here.
As we’ve also mentioned, there is a real practical safety application with children in crowded swimming pools that have a bandage or dressing that needs to be kept clean and dry.
Would you like a chance to WIN a Buddy cover?
We are giving one lucky reader the chance to win a medium Buddy cover, just head over to our Facebook page and LIKE and SHARE our buddy cover post. Simple 🙂 Entries close 11.11.2017.