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  • The Awkwardness of a Handshake When You Have SMA

    Posted by kevin-schaefer on June 23, 2018 at 10:00 am

    I’ll probably write a column about this later, but I know from experience that it can be pretty awkward when you meet someone new and are unable to shake their hand. It’s like “Hey nice to meet you! Oh yeah, uh I can’t raise my hand. Sorry.”

    Since acquiring my JACO robotic arm, I just tell people to fist-bump that, making things extremely less awkward. This also opens doors for conversations about the arm, which people find really interesting.

    I’m sure others can relate to this. What do you like to do in this situation? Do you crack a joke? Do you just kind of let in pass? Do you briefly explain that the condition you have limits your upper-body strength? Do you go all-in and use it as an opportunity to educate people about SMA? I think there are many ways to handle this, but I’m sure it’s a situation that many of us are familiar with.

    adnan-hafizovic replied 5 years, 12 months ago 4 Members · 5 Replies
  • 5 Replies
  • ryan-berhar-2

    June 23, 2018 at 5:38 pm

    Haha this is an annoying one for sure. For me, I can sort of do a handshake, but it’s more like just slightly raising my arm and extending the two fingers that actually move. I avoid these situations if possible, partly due to germs. One strategy I use is holding something (my phone, coffee, whatever) if I think I’m about to encounter a handshake scenario. This is a great way to avoid all the potential awkwardness. The person can see that your hand is simply occupied. Smile, say hello, and move on. I guess you could say it’s a little disingenuous, but it works. Lol

    • kevin-schaefer

      June 25, 2018 at 9:52 am

      Great idea! Yeah there’s nothing wrong with using a piece of technology in place of your hand. You’re right in that it’s a good defense against germs, and it can make these situations less awkward.

  • deann-r

    June 25, 2018 at 11:52 am

    I usually just do a wimpy wave or nod of acknowledgement to try to avoid the handshake.  Hugs to me are even more awkward.  I hate worrying if they’ll bump my joystick, or if my head will fall back not to mention the germ thing Ryan brought up.  Plus I don’t reciprocate because I can’t.  Thankfully my family and friends know I’m not a hugger, but it’s inevitable on occasion.

    • kevin-schaefer

      June 25, 2018 at 12:53 pm

      Right! I’ve had that happen to where people accidentally push my joystick. It’s super awkward. Yeah, sometimes just a simple nod works best.

  • adnan-hafizovic

    June 26, 2018 at 12:07 pm

    I haven`t    problem with handshake,

    yes I m a little stronger

    but most people who I know they   drop his hand almost to my lap

    and genly handshake with me.

    And yes Ryan we must protect from germs.

    And I also dont like hugging with people who doesnt really good my condition,

    friends and my cousins know so I like hugging with them.

    And I must admit that I like hugging with pretty girls,lol.

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