Claudia Mitchell was living a fairly normal life. In 2004, Claudia was an average college student. However, all of that changed when she had a motorcycle accident that left her disabled.
After the accident, doctors raced to reattach her arm but the operation proved to be unsuccessful. The doctors then provided a prosthetic arm in its place. Mitchell unfortunately had a great deal of adjustment difficulty. So, basically, the prosthetic arm was simply impossible for her to manage.
“It just sat on the shelf. It didn’t do anything,” said Mitchell.
That’s when Claudia read about a new, experimental nerve surgery developed by Dr. Todd Kuiken entitled “targeted reinnervation.” A robotic arm was to be implanted on her body—not controlled by her shoulder but by her thoughts.
Claudia immediately volunteered for the experimental procedure. The doctors took severed and dormant nerves in her shoulder and put them under a muscle in her chest. So, now when Claudia wants her arm to move, she puts the thought in her head first. This signal travels from her brain to the muscle in her chest. The chest muscle contracts and “lets tiny bits of electricity out.” These electric signals then go to an internal computer that decodes them and tells the artificial arm what to do—all in an instant!
“I have what I call my ‘eureka moments,’” Claudia said. “My stunned ‘I can’t believe I just did that’ moments. There are a lot of daily tasks that people don’t even think about being able to do that I can [do] now.”
Well, if I had any thoughts of complaining today, those thoughts are going to be put to some better use! Maybe I’ll get my lazy self up and get outside for the afternoon. Maybe I’ll go exercise. Maybe I’ll spend more time with my family today.
Who knows what all I’ll do today. One thing for sure, when I remember this story, complaining won’t be one of those things!