I admit it: sometimes the lack of tactile interactions makes me feel isolated.
My friend Megan, who also happens to be a nurse, has always strongly preached that there is a lot of power in human touch. I remember one day when she took me to an exercise therapy appointment where I used a Locomat, an exoskeleton device that gave her free access to come up and hug me. At the time, I chuckled at her while the personal trainer rolled his eyes as she told us that human touch is healing. But, I have to admit, it really did feel good getting a full-on hug from someone I love.
Because of my paralysis, it is not always easy for people to physically interact with me in the same way that they do with others. I just sit there. People are not quite sure how to shake my hand or give a casual hug that they would to somebody who is not paralyzed. I admit it: sometimes the lack of tactile interactions makes me feel isolated.
On the other hand, I have three nephews who love to shower me with affection. The older two climb up onto my lap on their own and the youngest will drag someone over to me, gesturing when he wants to cuddle with me. For them, it is normal, and they are not inhibited by not knowing how to physically interact with me, because they have grown up knowing that they have to interact with me differently. There must be something to Megan’s philosophy, because my overall quality of life and happiness has exponentially increased with the regular love and affection they bestow on me.
I know others who have various different disabilities and have seen that human touch and affection are very powerful. For example, I know a young boy who is nonverbal and expresses all of his emotions and affection through touch and brilliant smiles.
Over the years, I have witnessed the incredible wisdom behind Megan's philosophy. When you come across someone who is disabled, even if it may be slightly different than how you usually do it, interact with them as you would anyone. You can shake their hand just by resting your hand on theirs. A simple gesture may have more power than you realize. Seeing and experiencing just how powerful human touch can be, has made me insist on getting cuddle time with my little nephews, which in turn has made the act of crawling up onto my lap very natural for them. Touch is a fundamental part of human interactions and maintains its power even for those with altered sensory perception.
The views expressed by Loa are not necessarily the view of the Ventec Life Systems, its members or the clinical board. These blog posts are the personal experiences of Loa. The blog posts are not intended to provide clinical advice or training related to VOCSN. Always consult a physician or trained clinician prior to using VOCSN. Please refer to the VOCSN Clinical and Technical Manual for detailed instructions, including indications and contraindications for use. VOCSN is available by prescription only.