Musician serenades surgeons during brain operation

A 31-year-old musician serenaded surgeons while they burned out parts of his brain so that he could continue playing guitar. 

The patient, identified as Taskin Ibna Ali, suffered from focal hand dystonia - a rare condition also known as "musician's cramp" which meant he lost 80 percent of the precise dexterity in his left hand.

There is no known cure, but experts believe it is caused by failing motor control systems in the brain, so Taskin, who did not give his surname, asked surgeons to operate.

Doctors burned away the "misfiring" parts of the brain - and an incredible video captured Taskin playing guitar on the operating room so surgeons could check they'd cut off the correct bit.

The talented musician from Bangladesh instantly regained near-full use of the fingers on his left hand for the first time in five years.


"This is a very specialized brain circuit surgery that is performed in very few centers in India," Dr. Sharan Srinivasan, Taskin's neurosurgeon, said. "It involves 'burning' a set of 'misbehaving and misfiring' brain circuits which are about 8-10cms deep inside his brain."

"This is performed under local anesthetic because the patient needs to be fully awake and repeatedly play his guitar and also perform other activities that he found difficult," he said. "In doing so these circuits can be precisely localized and 'burned.' He got near 100 percent results during surgery."

"He gained full the use of his first, second, fourth and fifth fingers and about 50 percent use in the third finger," Srinivasan reported. "He was able to play the guitar very well and also flip a coin and handle a mobile phone. With postoperative specialized neuro rehabilitation, the third finger has also recovered 100 percent, as also the strength and coordination in his hand and fingers.

"He is now retraining his brain circuits to restore his original pattern of playing the guitar," he said. "His ability to perform fine, manipulative movements with his left hand has recovered 100 percent."

Taskin, a computer engineer, started playing the guitar in 2005 and went professional in 2008.

Five years later he began noticing some discomfort in his left middle finger while playing guitar and the pain soon spread to all his other fingers.

He was diagnosed with focal hand dystonia, and was devastated to hear there was no immediate cure.

Focal hand dystonia causes involuntary movement, cramps or tremors in the hand or arm muscles usually when making highly practiced hand movements like writing or playing musical instruments.

The cause is not fully understood but it appears that the motor control systems in the brain essential for performing music fail to work properly.

He sold one of his guitars and saved up for ten months to afford the operation at Bhagwan Mahaveer Jain Hospital, in Bengaluru, India, on May 17.

Surgeons burned pathways which were 10.5cm deep inside his brain and said the results were instant.