Though a gunshot wound left Erik Sorto paralyzed when he was 21 years old, he is now able to engage in one of life's simple pleasures again thanks to a groundbreaking clinical trial (a collaboration involving Caltech, Keck School of Medicine of USC, and Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center) wherein doctors surgically implanted a neuro-prosthetic device into the portion of Sorto's brain that houses and controls his "intent to move." Though Sorto's case isn't the first involving mind-controlled external devices, it is reportedly the first to utilize the PPC — posterior parietal cortex.

Here's the science, via Caltech:

"This trial is an important step toward improving [the] quality of life," says principal investigator Richard Andersen. "The reason we are developing these devices is that normally a quadriplegic patient couldn't, say, pick up a glass of water to sip it, or feed themselves."

Sorto, who hasn't enjoyed a beer without special assistance in more than 13 years, seems pleased with the results thus far. "I was surprised at how easy it was," Sorto says. "I remember just having this out-of-body experience, and I wanted to just run around and high-five everybody."