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 in a video uploaded to YouTube in April.
First diagnosed with essential tremors in 2009, Frisch's remarkable story is being shared again in honour of the Mayo Clinic's 150th anniversary.
At the time, 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 Frisch could play during the operation to aid surgeons while they implanted electrodes in “the best possible place to stop the tremor.”
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.
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