Chinese guitarist regains his strumming skills on operating table during brain surgery

Li successfully showed off some advanced guitar techniques as surgeons operated on his brain

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 January, 2016, 2:00pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 January, 2016, 3:06pm

A Chinese musician regained his ability to play the guitar as doctors performed brain surgery on him on Monday.

The musician, identified only by his surname Li, is a guitar artist from Jilin province in northern China, the Southern Daily reported.

Li contracted a rare neurological disease called the musician’s dystonia 20 years ago. The disease affected the muscles in his fingers, depriving him of the strength to play the guitar and write.

The problem, which could not be treated with medication, worsened over the years.

Li eventually decided to undergo brain surgery to fix the problem.

On Monday, Cai Xiaodong, director of the neurology department at the 2nd People’s Hospital in Shenzhen, Guangdong, performed surgery on Li to “reboot” his finger muscles.

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Li was required to remain conscious during the hour-long operation as Cai implanted medical electrodes into the patient’s brain and used light electricity to stimulate the neurons controlling Li’s finger muscles.

The electrodes, charged by batteries implanted under the skin on Li’s shoulder, will be able to work for about 10 years, according to the report.

Li was required to try moving his fingers during the operation in order to determine if the electrodes were working.

As the surgery progressed, he found his stiff fingers regaining their dexterity, and he even managed to show off some advanced guitar techniques while on the operating table.

“[The operation] has immediate effects,” Cai was quoted as saying. “Li has regained 80 per cent of the use of his finger muscles. The remaining 20 per cent will return through rehabilitation.”

This is China’s first reported case of brain surgery curing musician’s dystonia, and the seventh such case worldwide, the article said.