Science Café Cleveland presents


Getting Back in Touch with the World:

Restoring Sensation after Limb Loss


AUGUST 11, 2014


FEATURING: Dustin Tyler

Associate Professor, Biomedical Engineering, Case Western Reserve University





One of the first biology lessons in grade school is of the five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. They are the (only) connection to the world and people around us. Close your eyes, you can get a sense of the challenges of blindness; Plug your ears a sense of deafness. However, of the five senses, the one we take most for granted, and least understand the devastating impact of its loss, is touch. The sense of touch comes from the skin, the largest sensory organ in the human body. For nearly 2 million people in the U.S. and 185,000 more each year, the loss of sensation is one of the most significant effects of limb loss resulting from trauma or vascular disease. Body-powered prostheses are often preferred over more functional devices because the user can “feel” the pressure of a grip through a requisite body harness. Providing representative sensory information on the residual limb is unnatural and does not directly match the sensory locations expected by the user’s visual experience of the prosthesis. We have solved these challenges with small devices placed in the body to directly activate the neural pathways normally responsible for sensation. The fascinating and enabling neuroscience concept is that the perception of feeling ones finger, for example, is actually a consequence of activity in the brain, not the finger itself. We have engineered man-made systems to artificially control the brain circuitry so that the user literally feels their hand – the missing hand - touching and manipulating objects. With nearly four subject-years of experience, this work is leading the evolution of a new era in prostheses. Dustin Tyler will discuss this emerging field of devices for sensory restoration and will engage in a forward-looking discussion about the revolutionary potential of this technology beyond prostheses for limb loss.



Dustin Tyler's Functional Neural Interface Lab - General Information:


Discovery Channel, Canada (14 Jan 2014), program link:


National Geographic Daily News (22 Feb 2014)

"Revolution in Artificial Limbs Brings Feeling Back to Amputees", Josh Fischmann


MIT Technology Review, (12 May 2013)

“An Artificial Hand with Real Feelings,” David Talbot

Innovation Excellence, #9 of Top 10 innovations in 2013 (14 Dec 2013):


Cleveland Plain Dealer (27 Dec 2013)

"Prosthetic hand with sense of touch in development at Case and Cleveland VA," Brie Zeltner






The Tasting Room at Great Lakes Brewing Company

2701 Carroll Avenue

Cleveland, Ohio 44113



August 11, 2014

Doors open 5:30 - 9:30 PM (Limited menu available for purchase before and during the event. Not to mention beer! Last call is at 8:45 PM) Discussion starts around 7:00 p.m.


*Please Note* A few of our cafes have approached capacity and/or standing room only. If you want to be 100% sure to get in and get a good seat, you might want to arrive a bit early.


WHO: Sponsored by Case Western Reserve University chapter of Sigma Xi, WCPN ideastream, and Great Lakes Brewing Company



Click here to download a pdf flyer of the event