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Heather Rendulic yearns to use both hands to fill up her plate at a hotel buffet, or slice up her own steak. She wants to pull her hair into a ponytail. She’s tried to teach her husband, but it always comes out a bit messy.

Almost nine years after a stroke paralyzed the left side of her body at age 23, Rendulic sat in a lab at the University of Pittsburgh and used her left hand to cut a steak. Aided by a spinal cord stimulation implant developed by Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon researchers, she fed herself nuggets from Chick-fil-A, and used her left hand to draw a picture she described as “not half bad.”


“It’s a surreal feeling,” Rendulic said. “It felt like my brain could connect to my left arm and hand again.”

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