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Medical Device Allows People to Deliver Hugs

HugAgain might not be considered a revolutionary invention, but it is for those who use it. This medical device allows people with limited arm mobility to offer a two-arm hug to their loved ones.

The story of HugAgain starts in 2014. Emily Sisco was working as an adjunct professor and as an occupational therapy assistant at Arkansas State University. She challenged her students to invent a piece of adaptive equipment to help her father, Kevin Eubanks, who’d had a stroke.

That challenge created a strap that Eubanks could grab with his strong hand so that he could wrap the weaker one around the other person. Students Casey Parsons, Erica Dexter, Larissa Garcia, and Lisa James were all part of the design portion of HugAgain.

Garcia said that their goal was simple. They wanted to develop equipment that would be meaningful to Eubanks. Their idea went beyond all expectations.

What Is the Power of a Hug?

With HugAgain, anyone who has strength issues on one side of their body can offer a two-handed hug to others. It’s designed for those with cerebral palsy, paralysis, stroke-related symptoms, MS, and any other condition that makes arm movement challenging.

Hugs have power because of the oxytocin they produce. This chemical is often referred to as the “love hormone.” [[1]]

It provides social implications when released. When people share hugs, they develop trust, attachment, and bonding. That’s responsible for the desire to spend more time with that person. [[2]]

Oxytocin makes it feel good to give or get a hug. [[3]]

When people don’t get enough physical affection, they feel like they’re being starved for touch. That was one of the biggest problems that happened during the global pandemic. Even if it was possible to engage with family or friends, it was typically through barriers.

Several physical symptoms can develop when people cannot offer a hug or have limitations in what they receive. Individuals who don’t receive physical affection often experience higher levels of stress, depression, and loneliness.

When this issue is chronic, it can turn into a condition called alexithymia. That makes it harder for the person to feel future emotions. [[4]]

In severe instances, a lack of touch can cause physical pain, trigger the start of personality disorders, and reduce sleep quality.

With HugAgain, the physical barriers of providing hugs are eliminated. That makes it easier to enjoy the power of a hug whenever it is needed.

How Does HugAgain Work?

The company’s video showing Eubanks offering a hug to his grandchildren with HugAgain generated over four million views after its release. When people lose something fundamental, the chance to regain it means more than anything. That’s what this device provides.

Eubanks says that he believes the global pandemic contributed to the rising popularity of HugAgain. “The lack of human interaction has people craving intimate touch,” he told NBC News in 2022. “Don’t ever take the little things for granted.” [[5]]

HugAgain straps to the weak wrist. It has an extended pull area that hangs from the side so that the stronger hand can grasp it. This simple action allows a person with movement difficulties to still provide a two-handed hug.

The results are often emotional, but there are also practical benefits to consider when hugs are frequent.

When the body produces more oxytocin through hugging, it helps its immune system stay strong. People who receive more hugs typically get sick less often. When they do fall ill, the symptoms are usually less severe.

People who get or give hugs also experience heart benefits. A 20-second embrace lowers a person’s blood pressure for an extended time.

When couples hug frequently, they experience less interpersonal conflict in their relationship. That’s because an embrace is often seen as social support and a buffer against stress.

Full Production Has Not Yet Started

If you’re interested in HugAgain for yourself or someone you love, the company behind the product is getting close to starting production.

Since its initial invention, the design has undergone some revisions to ensure it provides safe support for those who want to give better hugs. You can contact the company through their Facebook page to request being put on their waitlist for the product. [[6]]

The power of a hug is as potent for the giver as it is for the person receiving it. With HugAgain, we have even more proof that simple inventions can produce life-changing results.

References:

[[1]] https://www.verywellmind.com/the-power-of-a-hug-on-your-health-5211361; [[2]]https://www.pnas.org/doi/full/10.1073/pnas.1314190110 [[3]] https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pneurobio.2009.04.001; [[4]] https://www.healthline.com/health/autism/alexithymia; [[5]] https://www.today.com/parents/parents/arkansas-students-invent-tool-help-stroke-patient-hug-rcna16361; [[6]] https://www.facebook.com/TheHugger2022/

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