Wednesday, March 24, 2010

From Wilder Penfield to Roger Frisch

Wilder Graves Penfield (1891-1976) was a famous neurosurgeon. In the 1930s he pioneered the Montreal Procedure – a surgical treatment of epilepsy done under local anaesthetic with the patient conscious. The surgeon exposes and then probes the brain tissue. In response to probing, the conscious patient can describe his or her feelings so the surgeon can identify the exact location of seizure activity. His most famous patient was a woman who smelt burnt toast just before each seizure. Penfield treating her’s re-enacted here. The Montreal Procedure was a precursor of what’s become known as Deep Brain Stimulation [DBS]. And so to Roger Frisch – associate concertmaster with the Minnesota Orchestra. In June 2009 he was diagnosed with essential tremor – which of course threatened his career as a professional violinist. Recently in the Mayo Clinic Frisch underwent DBS. He lay on the operating table with his hands clutching his violin to his chin (pictured). While surgeons probed his brain, he played the chords he’s known for over 30 years. Every note he played told the surgeons whether the electronic pulses they were sending to his brain were easing his tremor. Here’s the video of it. It’s quite remarkable. But more remarkable is that Penfield –acknowledged as one of the greatest Canadians ever – did his surgery a staggering 75 years earlier.

3 comments:

Chrows25 aka Leather Woman said...

Wilder Penfield is an icon for my husband Sel and I, what an amazing human being.Thank you for letting us see that video. I am also pretty impressed with you getting it on your blog and all I had to do was click Here's. I've shared it to my facebook as my G'daugter is studying psychology and my kids will be fascinated. I have an artist friend who has developed Parkinsons, but I think it will be too late for him as he is showing some dementia now. If I did get my life to do again, (Not likely), I would be a doctor or medical research, it has always been my first love, oh along with music and colours and furry quadrapeds.
Thanks again, Chris

farmdoc said...

What is it about me and Canadians. First, dear friends who recently stayed with us here in Mole Creek [1], then two delightful followers of Farmdoc's Blog: Wordsmith [2] and Chrows25 [3]. So it was inevitable if not predestined that I'd be enamoured of Penfield's work.

Chrows25 aka Leather Woman said...

I sent this on to my artist friend's wife who had heard of but not seen the video, she thinks it is too late for Richard as he is also just suffering effects of late 80's. I have a couple of women friends who are dealing with much older aging husbands I call it the "revenge of the first wife syndrome". I made sure I married a man younger than me!