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Man Plays Guitar While Having Brain Surgery
May 27, 2013
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In 2006, actor and musician Brad Carter was diagnosed with a neurological disorder that made his hands shake and eyes twitch. The condition made it difficult for him to play guitar.

He was recently scheduled to get brain surgery at the UCLA Health Centre, with doctors installing a pacemaker in his head to stimulate the damaged nerves and correct the disorder.

For this type of brain surgery, which is fairly routine, the patient remains awake and responsive for parts of the procedure to assist doctors with placing electrodes into the correct position.

Carter made an unusual request: could he play guitar during the procedure to make sure everything was working properly, and to see if the shakiness in his hands was improving?

Chief surgeon Dr. Nader Pouratian thought the request might make for an interesting social media experiment, especially since this was the 500th time hospital staff had performed this particular procedure.

So the UCLA Health Centre medical team documented the surgery in real time, via six-second Vine videos posted on the hospital's Twitter account, a medical and musical first.

Chief surgeon Dr. Nader Pouratian tells the Huffington Post: "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 videos show Carter chatting and strumming his cigar box steel guitar.

A spokeswoman for UCLA Health, Roxanne Yamaguchi Moster, told the LA Times that this was their first live-tweeted surgery. They did it to bring attention to brain pacemakers.

The pacemaker emits electric pulses to block activity in the subthalamus to reduce Parkinsonian symptoms such as tremors, rigidity, stiffness, slowed movement, and walking problems.

The technique, known as deep brain stimulation, does not damage healthy brain tissue.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, "many patients experience considerable reduction of their Parkinson's symptoms and are able to greatly reduce their medications."

The surgery appears to have had a positive impact, as Carter's guitar playing improves noticeably during the procedure.

Reminds us of the joke, "doc, will I be able to play piano? "Yes" "Well, I couldn't before!"

Carter says he's excited about getting back to music now that his pacemaker's in place: "I want to record, I want to perform live again, so hopefully this is going to help."



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