JONESBORO, Ark. — In January, Emily Eubanks Sisco, adjunct professor at Arkansas State University, created a challenge for her Occupational Therapy Assistant students to create a piece of adaptive equipment for her dad.
Kevin Eubanks, Emily’s dad, suffered a stroke eight years ago, and since then, has not been able to give a proper hug, amongst other things.
Emily said she presented her students with the idea by showing them a video of him completing his daily activities such as dressing, his bathroom routine and how he prepares his meals.
After the students watched the video, they were then able to FaceTime Kevin to get some more information, such as his likes and dislikes.
"You know, they knew he loved fishing... missed fishing. They knew he had trouble engaging with his grandkids and playing games with them, but they honed-in on one small statement where he said he missed hugging again," said Emily.
One of the last statements Emily’s dad made when speaking with the students was how he really missed hugging people with both of his arms.
“He said he didn’t feel like it was the same anymore now that he couldn’t (hug),” Emily said. “I had one group that took this one small statement and ran with it.”
"We just all came together and said that is so sad that he wants to hug and he can't. We've just got to do something about that," said Erica Dexter, an OTA student.
In February, Emily’s students were able to present their pieces of equipment, leaving her speechless.
“The thought they put into each piece was so remarkable,” Emily said. “They truly used their observation skills and clinical reasoning skills to help determine what would benefit my dad the most.”
Emily posted a video of her dad seeing, what was first known as “The Hugger” but is now referred to as “HugAgain,” for the first time.
“I appreciate everything y’all have done,” Kevin said in the video. “This is a dream of mine.”
As he’s talking, you can see a little boy run up to him in the video, and his daughter asks him if he wants to give him a hug.
“I sure do,” he said as he wiped tears from his eyes.
He gives him another hug, leaving not a single dry eye in the house.
“My dad now is able to do something that he never thought he would get to do again,” Emily said. “And that my friends is occupational therapy, taking what may seem is impossible and making it possible again.”
The video of Kevin opening the "HugAgain" was posted on Facebook and has received more than 100,000 likes and over 89,000 shares.
Since the product has gone viral, creators of HugAgain are in the process of improving the design in order to make it even better. HugAgain will enter a 4 -6 week period of production and will have a price available for purchase soon.