60 Minutes Features Pioneering Advances Led By CWRU Biomedical Engineers

Three people talking at a table60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley talks with CWRU biomedical engineer Dustin Tyler and research participant Brandon Prestwood at the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center, where prosthetic studies are jointly conducted.

60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley held an empty eggshell, then gingerly offered it to Brandon Prestwood, who grasped it in the fingers of his prosthetic hand. As Pelley’s fingers opened, Prestwood’s mechanical ones closed just enough to keep the egg from falling—but not so much that the fragile casing cracked.

“I can feel that,” Prestwood said.

The exchange was one of many incredible moments that the CBS news magazine showcased in March. The segment featured life-changing neural implants and sophisticated robotics that Case Western Reserve researchers have developed with partners at Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center.

“It was exciting to show the CBS team what we are accomplishing in Cleveland,” said Dustin Tyler, PhD (GRS ’99, biomedical engineering), the Kent H. Smith II Professor of Biomedical Engineering. “Touch is about connection ... connection to others—connection to yourself.”

Prestwood joined Tyler’s work years after losing his left hand and part of his arm in an industrial accident.

Surgically implanted wires and electrodes allow his brain and the prosthetic hand to exchange signals.

60 Minutes also highlighted Austin Beggin, who was paralyzed in a diving accident. Following brain surgery, he can now control his right hand with his thoughts. That project is led by Bolu Ajiboye, PhD, the Elmer Lincoln Lindseth Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering, and a consortium involving CWRU scientists and four major healthcare systems in Cleveland.

During the televised segment, Beggin also shook Pelley’s hand. “You’ve got a grip,” the correspondent said, “... amazing.”