This Wednesday, 57-year old English man Tony Nicklinson became the first ever person to tweet with their eyes. Nicklinson suffered a massive stroke 7 years ago and it left him suffering with the debilitating condition known as ‘locked-in syndrome’ which basically means that his mind is completely intact but his body is completely paralyzed.
The only way Nicklinson can communicate is by using a special computer that uses eye movement technology to select the letter that he has chosen. It was by using this computer that Nicklinson composed his first tweet which said: @TonyNicklinson “Hello world. I am tony nicklinson, I have locked-in syndrome and this is my first ever tweet.”
Hello world. I am tony nicklinson, I have locked-in syndrome and this is my first ever tweet. #tony
— TonyNicklinson (@TonyNicklinson) June 13, 2012
Since that tweet, Nicklinson has gathered nearly 5,000 Twitter followers and I’d say that he’ll pick up a few thousand more after the Channel 4 documentary show Dispatches about him, airs on Monday 18th June.
Nicklinson has claimed that life is “dull, miserable, demeaning, undignified and intolerable.” He will be appearing in court next week to argue that a medical professional should be allowed to end his life.
Another locked-in syndrome sufferer who managed to connect with the outside world was French journalist Jean-Dominique Bauby. The former editor –in-chief of Elle magazine suffered a stroke in 1995 which left him trapped inside his own body. Determined to get his message across Bauby spent 10 months dictating his memoirs to a transcriber, by using just the blinking of his left eyelid!
His memoirs “Le Scaphandre et Le Papillon,” were published in 1997, but Bauby died of pneumonia just 3 days after it was released. It was later adapted into the film “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” which received much critical acclaim.