Wednesday, 6 July 2016

The story of how a touch screen helped a paralyzed chimp walk again

Euthanasia does not have to be only option for injured animals

Date: July 5, 2016 
Source: Springer

The case of Reo, a male chimpanzee that learned to walk again after being paralyzed due to illness, shows how much can be done to rehabilitate animals injured in captivity. So says lead author Yoko Sakuraba of Kyoto University, in an article inPrimates, the official journal of the Japan Monkey Centre published by Springer.


In their normal work, researchers of the Primate Research Institute at Kyoto University use chimpanzees' interaction with computers and touch screens to study the cognition and perception of these primates. When Reo was paralyzed from the neck down, dedicated staff put this technology to further use by encouraging the animal to walk again. This is the first case in which a paralyzed chimpanzee has been rehabilitated through such a dedicated programme.

When Reo was 24 years old in 2006, he suddenly became paralyzed when a portion of his spinal cord became inflamed. For the first ten months thereafter, the chimpanzee was severely disabled, lying on his back. He gradually recovered enough to sit up, and could later pull himself upright by using suspended ropes. Intensive physiotherapy over a period of 41 months followed, after which he was able to climb about again using only his arms.

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