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Violinist plays Mozart during brain surgery to conquer 20-year hand tremor

A violinist played Mozart during her brain surgery in an Israeli clinic to help neurosurgeons correct her hand tremor. For 20 years the tremor halted her career, but after the operation she will be able to play professionally again.

Naomi Elishuv was a professional violinist of the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra before diagnosed with a hand tremor. She then had to stop her career.

On Tuesday, Elishuv underwent surgery at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center to suppress the symptoms of her disease.

The operation was unique: Professor Yitzhak Fried, Director of Functional Neurosurgery, who operated on Naomi, said that this was the first time he

“operated on a patient who played an instrument during surgery. I am so pleased that we had the opportunity to enjoy a private concert from a most talented and honorable musician,” he told Israeli media.

Fried explained that during the operation the doctors implanted and positioned a brain pacemaker with electrodes in the area of the brain disturbance. The device emits impulses to suppress the tremor that was disturbing Elishuv’s violin-playing.

In order to place the electrode in the optimal location, the medical team needed her real-time participation — by playing the violin.

“During the procedure, she did not feel pain because these areas of the brain do not feel pain,” Fried said.

He added that before the operation, he did stereotactic planning, which enabled him to identify the exact optimal brain location within millimeters.

“When we activated the stimulation in the exact location, we found that the tremor disappeared and Elishuv continued to play Mozart — with great emotion, but without the tremor or side effects,” Fried said.

In a YouTube video of the surgery, Naomi is playing Mozart while the doctors are performing the surgery. At one point, she shouts, “I have control!” and then finally begins to play without her tremors.

“It’s a shame that I only heard about the surgery recently. I am now finally returning to life,” she told Israeli news portal JNS.org.

Elishuv said that she couldn’t continue “any longer in her 20-year tremor state.”

She added: “My greatest love was playing the violin, but unfortunately, until today, I have had to make do with teaching. My tremor prevented me from playing professionally, and this was very difficult for a woman such as myself, who was used to playing her entire life.”

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