Student paralyzed after diving accident returns to class

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — “I was on vacation after my freshman year of college,” recalled Ian Burkhart, a 26-year-old student at The Ohio State University. “Out in the ocean, [I] dove into the sandbar that I didn’t know was there. That’s when I broke my neck.”

Burkhart recalled that 2010 summer that changed his life. The accident left him paralyzed from the neck down. But after working with doctors at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center and Battelle, Burkhart become the first quadriplegic to regain control of his limb.

“When I’m connected to everything, I’m able to think, ‘open my hand’ or ‘open my index finger’ and the machine will actually respond,” he said.

For now, he can only gain control of his hand during research sessions, but he looks forward to “the day I can take this home and use it outside of the lab.”

“The biggest thing that keeps me motivated is hope for the future,” Burkhart said. “I’ve been able to see it first. I won’t have to settle like everyone else will for the rest of their lives.”

His biggest challenge today is his return to school, as he returns to classes at OSU as a full-time student.

“I always saw it as — this is what it is now, but what can you do to make your life as good as you can?”

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