Viral: Patient Plays Violin During His Brain Surgery To Help Doctor

Prerna Aditi

You must have seen various music lovers and their passion for music. But have you seen a patient playing violing while going through a brain surgery? It seems weird, right? But, this is true. Rodger Frisch, who is a professional violinist in the Minnesota Orchestra for more than 40 years, played the violin while he was going through conscious brain surgery in 2010.

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It was in 2009 when Rodger realised some hand tremors. Since steady hands are quite important for a violinist, Frisch had shaky hands due to the tremors and hence, he could no longer play his violin smoothly. He thought of visiting a doctor and was diagnosed with a nervous disorder.

He was told by doctors that the solution to this problem is deep brain stimulation, a neurosurgical procedure that places brain pacifier (neurostimulator) to target the movement disorders such as essential tremors, Parkinson's disease and dystonia through implanted electrodes. The surgery was performed at the Mayo Clinic Neural Engineering Lab in the US.

For surgeons, it was a challenge to find the exact tremor spot in the brain but since the tremors were mild, the surgeons were unable to target. They felt that Frisch needs to be awake and help them by playing the violin so that they would be able to spot the tremor. It is noteworthy to mention that a patient isn't kept awake during conscious brain surgery but Frisch's condition was something different.

A three-axis accelerometer was fixed on the bow of the violin to help the doctors monitor the real-time Frisch's brain condition. Seeing the real-time movement disorder, the doctors inserted the electrodes to target the disorder. After inserting the electrodes in his brain, the doctors were then able to monitor the tremors perform necessary steps.

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The surgery was successful and Frisch is once again playing his violin smoothly without any problem. Before playing the violin, he turns on the pacemaker with the help of a controller provided to him by the doctors.

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