Nathan Copeland of western Pennsylvania lost the use of his arms and legs one dark and stormy night, as a teenager. His car spun out of control on a wet road in winter and crashed.
It paralyzed him, rendering him a quadriplegic with no movement in any of his limbs.
But Copeland, who is now thirty, has always had hope. Wanting to do everything he could to help his condition, at 25, he enrolled as a volunteer for groundbreaking research being done at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
And today that choice is paying off.
Copeland is now the proud owner of a robotic arm that he can move simply by using his brain. And, astonishingly, he can actually feel with it.
Here’s how it works: like something out of The Terminator, Copeland has computer chips implanted in his brain that communicate with to his robotic arm. He imagines the movement he wishes to make, and through amazing developments in neuroscience, the arm responds to his thoughts.
Going one step further, scientists have also implanted electrodes smaller than a grain of sand in the sensory cortex of his brain. This is allowing Copeland to actually feel pressure and touch with his prosthetic arm.
According to the Washington Post, Copeland can add pressure to the fingers on his robotic arm and feel it in his paralyzed right hand. The signal bypasses his damaged spinal cord and connects directly with his brain.
The successful experiment, which is the first of its kind to prove people with complete limb paralysis can feel with the assistance of advanced technology, has been published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
And Copeland, for his part, is very happy. He is now able to feel his hand again, which he hasn’t felt in ten years.