32 year-old Abhishek Prasad worried he’d never be able to play guitar again.
Nine months ago, the Bengaluru musician began experiencing unusual spasms in his fingers every time he tried to play his guitar. After seeing a neurologist, Prasad was diagnosed with dystonia– a neurological disorder in which the muscles involuntarily contract, causing cramps, painful spasms, twisting movements, and abnormal posture. After realizing he was no longer able to move his middle, ring, and little finger on his left hand, Prasad began to fret. He had previously assumed the stiffness he was experiencing in his fingers was from overpractice.
The neurologist that diagnosed Prasad’s dystonia recommended he undergo brain surgery to remedy the condition and reclaim his musical abilities. Prasad initially had his doubts, saying “[…] I got scared. But my doctor, Sharan Srinivasan gave me the confidence to do it”.
Prasad was fully awake during the seven-hour procedure, and was instructed to bring his guitar with him. “The doctor had told me before only that you need to get your guitar in the operation theater. I need a continuous feedback from you about how you are feeling”, he reported. After conducting an MRI, the surgeons proceeded to drill a half-inch hole into Prasad’s head and use a special electrode to “burn” the parts of his brain responsible for triggering the muscle spasms.
While on the operating table under local anesthesia, Prasad played his guitar to help the surgeons detect the affected areas and provide real-time feedback. As these parts of the brain were burned, Prasad played his guitar, feeling his fingers releasing as the operation went on. “I was amazed to see my fingers improve magically on the operation table itself,” he recounted, “By the end of the surgery, my fingers were 100% cured and I could move them like before”.
Prasad stayed in the hospital for three days after the surgery to be monitored by doctors during his recovery; it is reported he is well and his dystonia has been completely cured. Prasad says that now that his fingers work properly again, he’s planning to focus on his music. He hopes to release his first album next year.