Watch Inspiring Violinist Roger Frisch Play During Brain Surgery, With Amazing Results
The music nearly ended for American concert violinist Roger Frisch when he was diagnosed with a “career-ending” condition that took away his ability to play his beloved instrument with steady hands.
“When I would draw my bow, I suddenly had a shake in my bow. Now, for most other professions this wouldn’t be a concern. For a violinist where your career depends on the stability of your appendages, this was of great concern,” Frisch explained
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When violinist Roger Frisch was diagnosed with essential tremors, which often causes one to lose control of muscle movements in the hands, he ultimately became a groundbreaking success story for a procedure called deep brain stimulation.
Roger Frisch played his violin during deep brain stimulation so that doctors could see exactly how it affected his brain. Brain surgery is hard, but being awake while it is done to you presumably isn’t exactly easy either.
Doctors agreed deep brain stimulation surgery would be Frisch’s best shot at restoring control over his hand movements. Small electrodes would have to be implanted in areas to counteract signals in his brain telling his hand to shake.
But there was a problem: “We needed a violin in the OR,” said engineer Kevin Bennet.
So engineers designed a special violin, hooked up to monitors, so violinist Roger Frisch could play during the operation to aid surgeons while they implanted electrodes in “the best possible place to stop the tremor.”
See also: The two sides of our brain
As you can see in the video below, the procedure was a success. Violinist Roger Frisch can now play smoothly simply by flicking on the pacemaker, and his musical career remains intact.
The surgery was a success: “I started playing right away the day I came home from Mayo. I was back playing with my colleagues at the Minnesota Orchestra three weeks later,” Frisch said.
Five years on after his landmark experimental surgery, Frisch continues to play violin professionally on the world stage, according to the Mayo Clinic.