Lee Cowan: Out On A Limb

When I heard that I was doing a story on "bionic" men, I have to admit I was skeptical. There's been so much talk lately about artificial limbs, and promises that amputees could one day be as much machine as man, but none of them seemed entirely practical.

But what you'll see on tonight's CBS Evening News is different. These are truly a blend of medicine, anatomy, mechanics and computer technology, the closest I've ever seen to a "$6 million dollar man." And starting this week, the technology will actually be on the market.

But what impressed me more than anything was the excitement of the people using them. For the first time since losing a limb, they felt they had a bit of their old life back, and that brought with it a sense of confidence.

With more and more amputees coming back from Iraq, this kind of technology is vital. For too long, the field prosthetics seemed stagnant. It was only when younger, more active and very impatient amputees demanded better limbs that science caught up with desire. For the men you'll see tonight, and countless others who may benefit, these devices are like a wonder drug.

And once you see them in action – "wonder" is the key word.