Meet a Paralyzed Man Who Tweets With His Eyes

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How a stroke victim who lost all motor control used Twitter for the first time this week

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This is Tony Nicklinson. For the past seven years he's lived in a state of complete paralysis after suffering a stroke. Nicklinson is in the midst of a court battle for the right to end his own life -- he's called his post-accident existence "dull, miserable, demeaning, undignified and intolerable" -- but on June 13, the Brit did something uniquely remarkable: he made his debut on Twitter using only his eyes.

nicklinson.jpg

Nicklinson's lost all motor function as a result of his stroke, although his powers of thinking and reasoning are undiminished. The only remaining parts of his body that can move are his eyes. It's symptomatic of a condition called locked-in syndrome, named for the way in which patients who suffer from it are effectively trapped inside their own bodies.

With the help of a computer that tracks his pupil activity, Nicklinson logged onto Twitter from his wheelchair Wednesday and sent a single tweet. Within 24 hours, he had racked up nearly 2,500 followers. In the days since, Nicklinson's sent a handful of new messages, but follows only one other account -- @C4Dispatches, operated by the British television channel that produced a video of Nicklinson's tweeting. Watch:

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Brian Fung is the technology writer at National Journal. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and has written for Foreign Policy and The Washington Post.

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