Who is Neuralink’s first ever human trial patient? Former athlete Noland Arbo, 29, was left paralyzed after a diving accident at a children’s camp eight years ago.

Who is Neuralink’s first ever human trial patient?  Former athlete Noland Arbo, 29, was left paralyzed after a diving accident at a children’s camp eight years ago.

  • Noland Arbaugh, 29, was involved in a driving accident while working in June 2016
  • He was paralyzed and had “no feeling at all” from the shoulders down
  • The former athlete played chess with just a thought thanks to the Neuralink chip



A paraplegic man was able to play chess using only his mind thanks to a brain chip created by Elon Musk’s company Neuralink.

The device, which was sewn into Noland Arbaugh’s brain, allowed him to control a computer cursor and play video games by thinking alone.

“Do you see this indicator on the screen?” “This is all I have… it’s mental strength,” the 29-year-old said as he controlled the computer from his wheelchair.

The recent success of the chip is an amazing development and has reinforced the belief among experts that this technology could revolutionize care for the disabled.

But who is the Arizona man who successfully used Brain Computer Interface (BCI)? Dailymail.com takes a look at Neuralink’s first ever human trial in a Noland-Arbaugh patient.

Noland Arbaugh (pictured), 29, who had no feeling from the shoulders down, moved the cursor just by thinking
But who is the former athlete? Dailymail.com takes a look at Neuralink’s first ever patient, Noland Arbaugh (pictured)

Who is Noland Arbo?

Noland Arbaugh is the first human experimental patient to have a Neuralink chip inserted into his brain.

In January 2024, a former Christian athlete’s brain-computer interface (BCI) was sewn into the brain by a “sewing machine-like” robot.

Read more: Elon Musk reveals clip of first human patient implanted with Neuralink brain chip that uses ‘telepathy’ to play chess on computer just by thinking

Arbault claimed that the 30-minute procedure, in which a “suture robot” removed a small portion of the skull, was “very easy” and “there was nothing to be afraid of.”

In June 2016, the former Texas A&M University Corps of Cadets was involved in a life-changing driving accident while working as a camp counselor.

As a result, the 29-year-old was paralyzed and had no feeling at all from the shoulders down.

Eleven months after the accident, family and friends rallied around the young man, organizing a fundraiser for a wheelchair-accessible van.

Although the former Texas A&M student received a great deal of support, he struggled with his “lack of mobility,” according to his GoFundMe page.

Due to his paraplegia, the young man must be transported in a “bulky” electric wheelchair, making it difficult for him to travel to medical appointments.

The former Texas A&M University student was left paralyzed from the shoulders down after a driving accident while working at a camp (pictured: Noland)
The former Christian athlete suffered ‘lack of mobility’ after the accident, with his friends and family gathering around him to support him (pictured on bed: Noland)

In an effort to raise money for the much-needed car, the Arbault family sold red #NolandStrong bracelets.

Ultimately, his supporters surpassed their goal of $10,000 so they could purchase the “game-changing” truck in June 2017.

Mia Neely thanked Arbo’s supporters when the truck arrived, writing on behalf of his family: “This is a huge achievement for Noland and his family.”

“However, Noland still has a long way to go and still requires a lot of specialized equipment for daily life.”

The former camp counselor, who loved playing chess before the accident, was ecstatic over the stunning clip posted by Neuralink on March 21, 2024.

“This is one of the things you all have enabled me to do…” he said, sitting next to Bliss Chapman, a Neuralink engineer, while playing the game.

He likened his new ability to move devices with his mind to the Force from Star Wars, and added: “I haven’t really been able to do much in the last few years.”

In an effort to raise $10,000 to buy a much-needed truck, his supporters took to GoFundMe and sold red bracelets (pictured) with #NolandStrong

How does the Neuralink chip work?

The brain is filled with cells called neurons, which send messages to other parts of the body – including nerves and muscles.

Read more: Elon Musk insists people with paralysis will ‘again walk and use their arms normally’ one day – after Neuralink’s first patient played chess telepathically

The chip is placed in the part of the brain that controls our intention to move and can read these signals via electrodes.

After being received by the Neuralink chip, these messages are then translated into motor controllers that have the ability to operate external devices, such as smartphones, computers, or even muscle movement.

To apply this technology, a computer chip is implanted in the brain with small elastic threads by a robot that resembles a sewing machine.

During the 30-minute procedure, a “suture robot” removes a small portion of the skull and attaches thread-like electrodes to specific areas of the brain.

The hole is then sutured and the only visible scar remaining is from the small incision.

According to Musk, the procedure does not require general anesthesia and patients will be able to go home the same day.

This amazing technological development comes just one month after Elon Musk announced that the first chip had been implanted in humans.

The chip is implanted with small elastic threads in the part of the brain that controls our intention to move (from left to right: Neuralink engineer Bliss Chapman and Noland)
Noland was ecstatic in the breathtaking clip, expressing how much he loved playing chess before the accident, adding: “I haven’t really been able to do much in the last few years.”
Elon Musk (pictured), who founded Neuralink, had claimed a month earlier that the chip would allow patients to control a mouse with their minds.

Musk said at the time that the first human patient would eventually be able to control a mouse with just his mind.

At the Spaces on

Recently, Musk reposted the stunning footage of Arbo, describing his actions as “telepathy.”

“Neuralink live stream demonstrating ‘telepathy’ – controlling a computer and playing video games just by thinking,” he wrote in the caption.

    (Marks for translation) from 

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