Embrace Me, You Irreplaceable You

Some inventors spend their time working on a better mousetrap. My friend Ryan wants to perfect a better way to hug.

It’s not that Ryan has a problem with the conventional, tried-and-true method of hugging. It’s just that his arms don’t happen to work that way. Ryan was born with a muscular disorder called nemaline myopathy. He uses a wheelchair, among other aids. “My disability affects me in many ways,” he writes. “But in this case, I’m unable to independently raise my arms, wrap them around someone, and have them stay in place.”

Ryan is no stranger to intimate relationships – his last one lasted almost nine years – but he would like to offer something new to his next sweetheart: a full embrace.

“To me, getting a hug is like a longer-lasting kiss.” Ryan says. “After the hug, you can keep holding them, kiss them, look into their eyes. It’s a way of saying that you’re there for them and always will be.”

Ryan enjoys receiving hugs. And he hugs friends and family members with his legs. But he wants help to design a device that will somehow suspend his upper limbs in the air so that he can, for the first time in his life, squeeze them around a special someone without losing his grip.

To that end, Ryan has reached out to a non-profit organization of volunteers who create one-of-a-kind assistive devices for people with disabilities. “I realize that this project could be timely, and possibly expensive, but to me it’s worth it,” Ryan notes. “I’d love to be able to give someone that I care about a real hug, and experience another form of intimacy and closeness.” A hugging machine, he feels, will allow him to do that.

Plus, of course, hugs are good for the health. My friend Ryan is all about giving back.

Arms open wide… Ryan is going for it.

Arms open wide… Ryan is going for it.

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