A patient at University of California - Los Angeles (UCLA) stole the spotlight when he was filmed playing the guitar while undergoing brain surgery. Brad Carter, a 39-year-old actor and musician in Los Angeles, was undergoing a procedure to implant a brain pacemaker to help treat essential tremors - an involuntary shaking movement for which no cause can be identified.
The procedure, which was conducted on May 23, was the 500th deep brain stimulation surgery performed at UCLA and with Carter's help was turned into a public event. The medical team posted live updates on Twitter during surgery as well as videos of Carter, who was awake during the procedure, testing his motor skills including playing guitar.
Carter, who developed hand tremors in 2006, was looking forward to the benefits of the surgery.
"My music is really important to me so I'm hoping that this will allow me to do that, to play guitar. I'm a finger picker. I want to record, I want to perform live again, I performed live for many years and I want to get back to that," said Carter. "I've just been putting it off, trying to figure out why this is happening. So hopefully this going to help that today."
After the brain stimulation portion of the surgery, Carter's dexterity on the guitar was much improved. Carter gave his authorization for the surgery to be shared via Twitter and the social media outlet's Vine video application.
The operation was overseen by Dr. Nader Pouratian, the director the UCLA Functional and Movement Disorder Program.
"The reason that we keep patients awake during the surgery is so that we can test them. Because no matter how great our imaging is, our goal is not to get the electrode in a specific spot on an MRI but to get it in the right spot for the patient and make their quality of life and their function better. There's no substitute in our eyes for actually testing the patient, turning the stimulator on, seeing that that tremor goes away and that's exactly what we saw with Brad," said Dr. Pouratian. "We saw the tremor went away when he was holding a cup, when he was holding his hand out straight and also when he drawing spirals. And most importantly, when he was playing the guitar."
UCLA live-tweeted the surgery with the hope that it would help alleviate future patients' fear of the procedure.
Presented by Adam Justice