The Man Who Lost Touch

the-man-who-lost-touchWhat happens without our innate ability to know where and how our body is moving through space? And what can we learn from those who have lost it?

At the age of 19, Ian Waterman had a bout of severe gastric flu and his body produced antibodies which attacked his nerves. Though still able to feel temperature and pain and with normal movement or motor nerves, he lost all touch and sense of movement and position sense below the neck. Without feedback from the limbs, he could not coordinate movement and move in a controlled way. He spent the next 17 months as an inpatient learning to think about movement again. He realized that if he looked at, say, his arm and thought about moving it then it could move, but that the mental effort to do this was huge.

Choreographer and dancer Siobhan Davies tells us what she has learned from Ian Waterman.

Presented by Hannah Devlin and produced by Max Sanderson

The Guardian’s Science Weekly | 27th September 2016