This weekend, the CBS News program 60 Minutes is scheduled to feature groundbreaking work led by Case Western Reserve University researchers Dustin Tyler and A. Bolu Ajiboye—biomedical engineering pioneers who are bringing a renewed sense of touch to amputees and people with paralysis, using neuroprosthetics.
The segment—which also includes researchers from institutions outside Northeast Ohio—is scheduled to appear first when the program airs at 7 p.m. Sunday.* After the network’s program ends, viewers can see additional footage online at 60 Minutes Overtime.
In January, CBS film crews, producers and reporter Scott Pelley conducted interviews and observed ongoing research at the university and Louis Stokes Cleveland Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), where teams that Tyler and Ajiboye lead work in partnership with Case Western Reserve.
Partnerships and people
The news teams also interviewed Brandon Prestwood, a North Carolina worker who lost part of his arm in an industrial accident in 2012, who has been helped by Tyler’s team; and Austin Beggin of Lima, Ohio, who was paralyzed from a diving accident in Florida in 2015, but has continually regained feeling after brain surgery and working with Ajiboye’s team.
Jonathan Miller, professor of neurological surgery at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and director of the Functional and Restorative Neurosurgery Center at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, is also on that team, performing the neural implant surgeries.
Tyler and his team have brought the sense of physical touch to a prosthesis, allowing an amputee to safely pick up his granddaughter and slice a tomato—fundamentally changing the prosthesis from a sporadically used tool to a working “hand.”
Ajiboye focuses on the development and control of brain-computer-interface, neuroprosthetic technologies to restore function to the nervous system after someone has suffered a spinal cord injury or stroke.
Also involved in the demonstrations for the 60 Minutes news crews were Emily Graczyk, an assistant professor of Biomedical Engineering, research nurse Melissa Schmitt in bioengineering and collaborators from University Hospitals.
* While the network plans to air the segment at 7 p.m., its start may be delayed by live events. While much less likely, major breaking news could also postpone or pre-empt the show.