Valdosta Daily Times


September 15, 2013

Playing Against Time

Former Valdosta musician’s brain procedure propels funding for CD


VALDOSTA — Studio City is a neighborhood within Los Angeles, part of the San Fernando Valley, known for its population of movie stars.

While continuing to play music, Brad Carter has built a fairly steady acting career there.

In the past couple of years, he’s had roles in several television shows such as “Longmire,” “The Cheerleader Diaries,” “Bones,” “The Mentalist,” “CSI: NY,” “House,” “Harry’s Law,” “True Blood,” “Justified,” etc. He’s scheduled to play a role in the upcoming HBO miniseries, “True Detective,” starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson.

In terms of his career, more roles have been coming his way at the same time he’s been dealing with effects of essential tremor.

Seven years ago, he experienced the slight tremors in his right hand. The initial diagnosis: Essential tremor.

Then came the detour. The diagnosis was changed to Lyme disease; tremors are a symptom. Treatments for Lyme disease did not help the tremors. Instead, they became worse.

He discovered the medical profession of movement disorder specialist. This specialist also diagnosed Carter with essential tremor.

In the past two years, the condition has grown worse. Carter has been unable to play guitar in live shows for more than a year. Tremors had begun in his left hand.

An artist, a guitar player since 1980, an actor, a person who has always used his hands to make a living and express his creativity, Carter says, “I used to brag about having the hands of a surgeon.” Slowly, his hands no longer worked for him.

He agreed to a medical proposal, one which posed pain, potential dangers, and no absolute guarantees it would work.

Deep Brain Stimulation is a procedure “that involves the placing of electrodes in my brain and a control in my chest,” Carter notes. “By using electrical stimulation to a tiny spot in my thalamus, my doctors hope to improve my condition and to be able to manage it.”

On May 23, he underwent the procedure at the University of California in Los Angeles. A process that Carter has described as “scary as hell!”

At UCLA, the procedure went well. Carter had been approached about filming the procedure. He agreed, thinking it would be something for students to watch as a training film within UCLA.

Carter had seen a violin player playing while undergoing a similar operation. He’d seen another person play a banjo. So, he took his guitar to help him pass the time.

After the procedure, as Carter and the medical team gauged its success, the video of him playing guitar hit the Internet. Millions of people have since seen it around the world. Television shows played portions of it.

Carter was uncertain how to react to this unimagined response.

“It’s strange,” he says. “It’s the most painful thing to ever happen to me and now it’s the most public. ... But I’ve been rolling with the punches. I thought it might hurt my acting career if people knew about this, but at the same time, I had a desire to record an album before it was too late.”

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