Playing Guitar During Brain Surgery

A man diagnosed with a neurological disorder recently played guitar during his "awake" brain surgery.

Playing Guitar While Having Brain Surgery

UCLA Health Centre allowed the patient to play his guitar in order to check his improvements while the surgery was ongoing.

Brad Carter, a musician and actor, was diagnosed with a brain disorder that made his hands shake and eyes twitch. To help alleviate his conditions, he is to have a pacemaker installed in his head to stimulate the damaged nerves and correct the disorder. The installation of the pacemaker will require a brain surgery, which the patient agreed to.

This surgery is said to be fairly routine, with the patient remaining awake and responsive for certain parts of the procedure. The patient's responses will help guide the doctors as they place the pacemaker electrodes into the correct position.

What makes this surgery quite interesting however is Carter's unusual request, he wanted to play his guitar during the procedure to see if his hands were working properly and to see if the hand tremors were reduced.

Chief Surgeon Dr. Nader Pouratian agreed to the request and used it as a social media experiment that will coincide with the 500th time this procedure is done in their hospital. The doctor thought that this will be a great opportunity to get media attention in order to let more people know about brain pacemakers.

The brain surgery was documented in real time by UCLA Health Centre staff, they posted six second Vine videos posted on the hospital's Twitter account, the procedure is considered as a medical and a musical first.

Dr. Nader Pouratian comments: "Not everyone gets to experience a surgery, and more specifically an awake brain surgery. I thought it was a great opportunity to share with the world."

The pacemakers are designed to alleviate Parkinsonian symptoms such as shaking, stiffness, slowed movement, and other motor related problems. When properly positioned, it emits electric pulses that block unwanted activity in the subthalamus. It uses deep brain stimulation, which does not damage healthy brain tissue. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke was quoted saying: "Many patients experience considerable reduction of their Parkinson's symptoms and are able to greatly reduce their medications."

The operation seems to have had a good effect, and Carter's playing noticeably improved during the operation. He is now excited to record and perform live again, and hopes that the pacemaker will help.

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