2002 Photo Contest, Science & Technology, 1st prize

John Costello

The Philadelphia Inquirer

02 May, 2001

Doctors test the wiring that moves William Kilbride's hand for the first time since his accident. At Cooper Hospital, surgeons used a new muscle stimulation system for quadriplegics called 'Freehand'. In a seven-hour operation, they first attached eight electrodes to muscles inside his right arm. Then a small Implanted Receiver Stimulator (IRS), similar to a pacemaker, was placed in Kilbride's chest. The stimulator, activated by shoulder movements picked up by a sensor, sends electrical signals through thin wiring to the electrodes, causing the muscles to contract. When surgeons turned on the power, his fingers curled. Weeks later, Kilbride could feed himself, with help, and write his own name.

About the photographer

John Costello

This image is collected in