This robot arm is like a cochlear implant, but for touch. Watch it get turned on.

It was winter. It was raining. And Nathan Copeland was driving home.

Image via iStock.

Copeland, then 18, lived in Pennsylvania. He was coming home from Penn State Fayette at night and road conditions were poor. Copeland was only a few minutes away from his house when he wrecked his car.


"I ended up taking a turn too fast," he said in a video from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

The accident broke Copeland's neck and damaged his spinal cord. Medics airlifted him to the hospital. But the crash paralyzed him. Everything from his chest down turned numb. Today, he can move his wrists and shoulders, but that's about it.

Our sense of touch is more important than you might think.

If I asked you to name our senses, touch would probably be one of the last ones. But it's actually very important for helping us move through the world.

Touch can warn us if something is sharp. It helps our brains keep track of where our limbs are and what they're doing. Ever had a limb go numb while sleeping, only to wake up and discover it in some weird position?

Touch also helps us hold on to things. You don't have to manually calculate the pounds-per-square-inch of a firm handshake, for example. You just know.

Losing all of that can be hard. Copeland needed help with all his daily activities. Further health problems meant he had to drop out of school, too.

But now, Copeland will be one of the first testers for robotic arms that will restore his sense of touch.

Photo via University of Pittsburgh Medical Center/Pitt Health Sciences.

After his accident, Copeland enrolled in a registry for clinical trials and moved on with his life. Then, about 10 years after the accident, a group of researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center got in contact with him. They wanted to know if he would help test a new device they were creating.

It's a mind-controlled robotic arm. It connects to Copeland via tiny implants in his brain, which are carefully placed for arm control. He can move the arm with a thought.

All of this is neat, but it's not really that new. Other scientists have made mind-controlled arms before. But Copeland is the first human to get his sense of touch back as well, and that's the cool part.

"I can feel just about every finger — it's a really weird sensation," he said about a month after the device was hooked up. It's not painful, he said. "Sometimes it feels electrical and sometimes it's pressure, but for the most part, I can tell most of the fingers with definite precision. It feels like my fingers are getting touched or pushed."

Photo via University of Pittsburgh Medical Center/Pitt Health Sciences.

One of the most common problems with prosthetics is that they can't give "This is sharp. This is where your arm is. This is a good handshake"-type feedback that flesh-and-blood limbs can. It can make them awkward to use, which is why this new technology is so important.

Copeland's new arm could be a big step toward more natural prosthetics.

More work needs to be done, but this could be a big win for the 5.6 million people in the United States living with some form of paralysis.

"The ultimate goal is to create a system which moves and feels just like a natural arm would," said Pittsburgh University professor Robert Gaunt said in a press release. He led the team that treated Copeland.

More research needs to be done to refine the technique, of course. Copeland can feel pressure and intensity, for example, but he can't sense temperature.

"We have a long way to go to get there, but this is a great start," said Gaunt.

Watch UPMC's video of this breakthrough below:

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Photo by R.D. Smith on Unsplash

Gem is living her best life.

If you've ever dreamed of spontaneously walking out the door and treating yourself a day of pampering at a spa without even telling anyone, you'll love this doggo who is living your best life.

According to CTV News, a 5-year-old shepherd-cross named Gem escaped from her fenced backyard in Winnipeg early Saturday morning and ended up at the door of Happy Tails Pet Resort & Spa, five blocks away. An employee at the spa saw Gem at the gate around 6:30 a.m. and was surprised when they noticed her owners were nowhere to be seen.

"They were looking in the parking lot and saying, 'Where's your parents?'" said Shawn Bennett, one of the co-owners of the business.

The employee opened the door and Gem hopped right on in, ready and raring to go for her day of fun and relaxation.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."