Movement without touch: the life of Ian Waterman

When I first met Ian Waterman in the mid-1980s I could scarcely believe him. He claimed to have lost touch, and movement and position sense (termed proprioception) below the neck, though he could still feel pain and temperature, and his movement nerves were unaffected. Not only was I not aware of any such condition in medicine, but he had walked to the clinic and was sitting calmly as we chatted. How could his apparently normal functioning be reconciled with sensory loss which should have led to complete loss of coordination and useful movement? Tests soon showed his problem was exactly as he described it and, that when deprived of vision he was completely hopeless at moving, as expected. He had lost all automatic movement and was doing everything, instead, by…

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