As an Atlanta personal injury attorney, I have come to view our quadriplegic and paraplegic spinal cord injury (SCI) clients as friends and survivors rather than mere victims. Their never-ending quest for ways to overcome adversity and improve quality of life is awe inspiring.

This week there is news that researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have developed a still experimental system that enables a quadriplegic to operate a robotic arm with mind control.

The Pitt research team embedded a computer chip with 200 needles into the brain of a woman who became a quadriplegic in a motorcycle accident 8 years ago. Each needle was positioned near  neurons that control a particular arm or hand motion. The computer translates the signals and makes the robotic arm perform the intended task. For the first time since her injury she was able to feed herself.

This device is authorized under an FDA trial which may be extended beyond the initial one year approval. Although it will take perhaps five years or more to make this clinically available, this is a hopeful step toward improving the quality of life for SCI survivors who are quadriplegics.

  Ken Shigley is immediate past president of the State Bar of Georgia. Upon completing his term as State Bar President, he was placed on the “short list” for two Court of Appeals seats by the Georgia Judicial Nominating Commission, though  candidates a generation younger were ultimately chosen. He is currently  secretary of the American Association for Justice Motor Vehicle, Highway & Premises Liability Section, a board member of the Trucking Litigation Group,  chair of the board of the Institute for Continuing Legal Education in Georgia and a Georgia delegate to the American Bar Association House of Delegates. Lead author of Georgia Law of Torts: Trial Preparation & Practice (West, 2010-12), he has an AV Preeminent rating in Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory and Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers, and double board certification in Civil Trial Advocacy and Civil Pretrial Advocacy from the National Board of Legal Specialty Certification (formerly National Board of Trial Advocacy). In addition, he is listed in Super Lawyers (Atlanta Magazine), Legal Elite (Georgia Trend) and Who’s Who in Law (Atlanta Business Chronicle).