The bionic gloves that brought music back to me


Manage episode 307972386 series 1301438
By BBC and BBC World Service. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.
For many years, acclaimed Brazilian pianist Joao Carlos Martins graced the world's most famous concert halls, performing as a pianist and celebrated interpreter of Johann Sebastian Bach's music. He'd studied the piano since he was eight years old, and by the age of 21 had made his debut at the Carnegie Hall in New York sponsored by Eleanor Roosevelt. His career was going well until a series of health issues and injuries meant he couldn't fully play anymore. It started with a neurological condition called focal dystonia, which caused spasms in his hands. Then a soccer injury damaged a nerve in his arm, and in 1995 he was attacked by a mugger who hit him over the head, injuring his brain. Although he had over 20 operations, the dexterity in his hands was severely impeded and he was restricted to playing with just three fingers. He went on to become a celebrated conductor, but it looked like his professional piano playing was over. That was until Brazilian designer Ubiratan Bizarro Costa created a special pair of 'bionic' gloves for him. Now aged 81, they help Joao move all of his fingers more freely, reuniting him with the pieces and music he loves. Get in touch: Presenter: Mobeen Azhar Producer: Katy Takatsuki (Photo: Joao Carlos Martins wearing his bionic gloves. Credit: Miguel Schincariol/AFP via Getty Images)

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