Occupational Therapy Assistant students at Arkansas State University have invented a tool to make one man’s dream of being able to hug again come true, and their incredible success will help even more people get that feeling back. According to Southern Living, students Erica Dexter, Larissa Garcia, Lisa James, and Casey Parsons created the adaptive equipment after being challenged by their professor, Emily Sisco, to help her father, Kevin Eubanks, find a way to give a hug with both of his arms after losing the function of one when he suffered a stroke eight years ago. Their invention, which they call HugAgain, has warmed the hearts of all who have seen the miracle unfold as Kevin was finally able to give his grandchildren the biggest and warmest two-armed hug.
The students began their project by interviewing Kevin about the things he missed the most since he lost the function of his left arm. Kevin shared that though he missed activities like fishing and grilling, nothing compared to how much he missed being able to give a hug to people with both of his arms. Once hearing his wish, the students were committed to make his dream become a reality. According to Southern Living, “the resourceful students put their heads together and created a long strap that is Velcroed around an individual’s weak arm and grabbed with their other hand to wrap around another person.” A video of Kevin successfully using the equipment to hug his grandchildren showed him break down in tears, overjoyed with the feeling of finally being able to hold his grandchildren close to him for the first time.
Professor Sisco shared that this invention embodies the meaning of Occupational Therapy; “taking what may seem impossible and making it possible again.” With their initial success of HugAgain, the students are working on “building off their prototype to create a durable and affordable product that can help others like Eubanks.”
Being able to hug our loved ones is a magical experience that fits any situation. Sharing in moments of happiness or sadness, a warm hug makes everything better. The students who invented HugAgain are making a difference in the lives of those who will use it and their families who not only can dream of being able to give two-armed hugs again, but who now see why they should never stop dreaming as hard work, creativity, and dedication can make anything possible.