Woman plays violin during brain surgery to save her musical skills

A British woman has emerged from complicated brain surgery with her fine motor skills intact, thanks to doctors who insisted she play her beloved violin through part of the operation.

Dagmar Turner, 53, went under the knife at King’s College Hospital in London to have a dangerous tumour removed from her brain on Jan. 31. The tumour was nestled in the right frontal lobe of her brain, close to the area that controls language and the fine movements in Turner’s left hand.

One wrong move by doctors might have cost Turner 40 years of violin practice, robbing her of the dexterity needed to play the instrument.

But the neurosurgeons had a plan. They mapped Turner’s brain, opened up her skull for the surgery, then woke her from her anesthesia and asked her to play the violin. The activity allowed them to see and avoid the parts of the brain she needs to play, while successfully cutting away bits of the tumour.

Turner played music by Gustav Mahler, George Gershwin’s jazz classic Summertime and pieces by Spanish songwriter and singer Julio Iglesias.

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