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A World-Class Musician Was Asked To Play Violin During His Own Brain Surgery

Imagine being awake while doctors were just fiddling around in your brain.

1. Roger Frisch is a world-class violinist and a few years ago he developed an essential tremor in his hands, which is a problem if you use your hands to make a living.

2. One of the best treatments available for essential tremors is a procedure called deep brain stimulation, which involves sending electrical impulses into the brain. And that’s why Frisch was asked to bring his violin to the operating room last Spring.

3. Frisch’s tremor was mild and surgeons worried they might put the stimulating electrodes in the wrong part of his brain. So they had him play while they operated.

4. Frisch’s violin bow was hooked up to an accelerometer, which then sent data into a computer letting the surgical team know if they were hitting the right part of his thalamus. If his tremble lessened as he was playing, then they knew they found the spot.

5. The team at the Mayo Clinic, where Frisch had his operation, built the accelerometer just for the treatment and it paid off. Surgeons successfully found the right area of Frisch’s thalamus.

6. They hooked the electrodes up to Frisch’s brain, which are now connected to a pack he wears with a button that stimulates the thalamus.

7. Frisch, complete with his pocket brain stimulator, played a show three weeks later and in a followup interview he said the tremors are now nonexistent.

8. You can watch a video all about the amazing operation here:

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Ryan Broderick is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Ryan Broderick at ryan@buzzfeed.com.
 
 

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