"Ian Burkhart had barely finished his freshman year of college when he broke his neck.
Standing on top of a cliff in North Carolina's Outer Banks, which overlooked an orange sandbar jutting into the Atlantic Ocean, he dove hands-first toward the deceptively shallow water below.
"It happened so fast. There was this loud snap," he says.
The impact with the sandbar broke his vertebrae at what's called the C5 level, paralyzing his body from the elbows down. He spent the next four months recovering. Doctors told him he'd never be able to use his arms again.
That was four years ago. But on June 23, Ian made a fist with his right hand using only his brain waves, transferred through an innovative chip implanted in his head. In other words, he moved his paralyzed hand just by thinking about it.
The groundbreaking move is thanks to a microchip technology called Neurobridge, developed by researchers with medical nonprofit group Battelle. Neurobridge interprets brain signals as a way to "bypass" the duties of the spinal cord."