Paralyzed Man Moves His Arm With His Brain

( Jeffrey Kluger, APRIL 17, 2017 — Not long ago, Bill Kochevar ate some mashed potatoes — and when he did, the world turned over. Kochevar, 56, performed that seemingly unremarkable act with his right hand, a hand that hadn’t moved independently since the day, eight years ago, when he was riding his bicycle in a multiple sclerosis charity event and didn’t notice that a mail truck had stopped short in front of him. He collided with the truck, fractured his fifth cervical vertebra, and became, just like that, quadriplegic.

And yet now he can eat mashed potatoes — and drink a cup of coffee and enjoy the sublime, independent pleasure of scratching his own nose.

Those accomplishments and the science behind them are the subject of a paper published Tuesday by The Lancet, describing a breakthrough in restoring the ability of paralyzed people to move their limbs by commanding them with their brains. “To me,” Kochevar told TIME, “it feels exactly the same as it did before, except there is a little delay.”

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