What if you were to suddenly lose control of your body? It’s one of those fears that we never think will happen, but to some of us it does. Ian Burkhart was 19-years-old when he became a quadriplegic after a swimming accident and never thought he’d move his muscles again, but now four years later he’s beginning to do just that. The miracle? Something scientists are calling a “virtual spine.”

By implanting a tiny computer chip directly into Burkhart’s brain, Matrix style, the dude has been able to “talk” with the chip over a series of sessions and develop a new method for communicating how and when to move his fingers, wrists, and hands. It’s in the beginning days of this technology, so Burkhart can only move with the assistance of a sleeve that activates his muscles, but scientists say that the progress may lead to further advancements down the road. In any case, it’s pretty fucking cool that we’re using technology to bring motion back to the paralyzed. Know more.