Emily Sisco is an adjunct professor in occupational therapy at Arkansas State University. Eight years after her father suffered a stroke, she challenged her students to create equipment for him to make his daily life easier. One of the things the students created for Kevin is ‘the hugger’ which enables him to finally hug again.
Effects of stroke influence everyday life
As a result of a stroke Kevin Eubanks had eight years ago, he experiences weakness in one of his arms. This of course affects his everyday life. Kevin does all the daily activities such as dressing, going to the bathroom and preparing meals, though everything is a bit harder now.
Although Kevin is able to do a lot of things by himself, the one thing he loves to do most was still impossible. When his daughter asked him what he misses doing to people, he answered: “oh, hugging them, yes.” Kevin really loves his grandchildren but couldn’t give them his love in a physical way. After the covid-19 pandemic, his craving for intimate touch had grown.
‘Hugger’ created by occupational therapy students makes a dream come true
Emily Sisco, an adjunct professor at Arkansas State University, challenged her occupational therapy students: to make her dad an adaptive piece of equipment. Students Lisa, Larissa, Erica, and Casey then came up with ‘the HugAgain project’. They created a strap for Kevin to wrap around his weaker left arm. When he then holds the strap, ‘the hugger’ enables him to give two-armed hugs again.
“My dad now is able to do something that he never thought he would get to do again. And that my friends is occupational therapy. Taking what may seem is impossible and making it possible again.” – Emily Sisco
Kevin’s reaction was very emotional. Finally hugging his grandchildren again is a dream come true for him. Kevin visited his daughters’ students at Arkansas State University to personally thank them for creating ‘the hugger’. After the positive feedback, the students are now working on a more durable and accessible product that can help others as well.
How to help those who have a disability
If you want to know how to help people with disabilities, there are many routes you can take. Simply learning how to effectively communicate comes first, but you can also offer your services as a volunteer or educator. Here is a 12-Step guide on where to begin.