On Jan. 10, Jessica Tawil — a paraplegic woman based in New York and New Jersey — shared the exercise in a clip that has since gone viral. According to her profile, Tawil has a T6 injury, which signals a loss of motor and sensory functions below the waist.
“A lot of people ask me what being paralyzed feels like, so I’m going to show you in under 60 seconds,” she says in her video.
Tawil then instructs her viewers to lower their hands onto a flat surface and tuck in all of their fingers, except for the ring finger.
“Now, try to lift your ring finger,” she says. “As you can see, it does not go up, and that’s exactly what paralysis feels like.”
In a text overlay, Tawil further expands on the feeling of being unable to move certain parts of your body.
“The frustration you feel from not being able to lift your finger is the same frustration I feel from not being able to move my legs,” the text reads.
The TikTok has since received nearly 11 million views.
“That got me scared [not gonna lie],” one commented.
“That was a perfect example,” a second added. “I would’ve never thought of it like that.”
Tawil, who has been using TikTok to raise awareness about living with paralysis, explained in a 2015 YouTube video that she suffered injuries in a car accident at age 16. In the video, she says she was invited to a party one night in 2014 but was unaware alcohol and drugs would be present. Feeling uncomfortable, she says she left the party in a car, thinking the driver — who was one of the attendees — would take her home. Instead, she says the driver took her elsewhere and, at one point, stepped on the brake and gas pedal at the same time before ramming the car into a tree.
“It really has been hard,” she said of becoming paralyzed. “But I’ve learned to accept it. This is how my life is — and I can’t really do anything about it.”
If you found this story insightful, read about this disabled teen who raised money for an exoskeleton.
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