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Behavioral recovery from tetraparesis in a captive chimpanzee

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An adult male chimpanzee living in a captive social group at the Primate Research Institute of Kyoto University developed acute tetraparesis. He was paralyzed and received intensive care and veterinary treatment as previously reported in Miyabe-Nishiwaki et al. (J Med Primatol 39:336–346, 2010). The behavioral recovery of the chimpanzee was longitudinally monitored using an index of upright posture between 0 and 41 months after the onset of tetraparesis. Four phases were identified during the course of behavioral recovery. During Phase 0 (0–13 months), the chimpanzee remained lying on his back during the absence of human caretakers. An increase in upright posture occurred in Phase I (14–17 months), then remained at a stable level of around 50–70 % in Phase II (18–29 months). During Phases I and II, the subject’s small treatment cage represented a spatial limitation. Thus, behavioral recovery was mainly mediated by arm muscle strengthening caused by raising the body trunk with the aid of materials attached to the cage walls as environmental enrichment. When the chimpanzee was moved to a larger rehabilitation room in Phase III (30–41 months), the percentage of upright posture constantly exceeded 80 %, except in the 40th month when he injured his ankle and was inactive for several days. The enlargement of the living space had a positive effect on behavioral recovery by increasing the types of locomotion exhibited by the subject, including the use of legs during walking. Rehabilitation works were applied in face-to-face situations which enabled the use of rehabilitation methods used in humans. The process of behavioral recovery reported in this study provides a basic data set for planning future rehabilitation programs and for comparisons with further cases of physical disability in non-human primates.

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This study was financially supported by the Primate Research Institute of Kyoto University, a Grant-Aid for Scientific Research from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, #20002001 and #24000001 to T.M., #19700245 and #23700313 to M.H., and Benesse Corporation. We thank the following people for their everyday care for Reo, useful suggestions, and providing information which enabled our study: Masaki Tomonaga, Masayuki Tanaka, Tomoko Imura, Ikuma Adachi, Shinya Yamamoto, Kiyonori Kumazaki, Gaku Ohashi, Yuko Hattori, Tomomi Ochiai, Toyomi Matsuno, Makiko Uchikoshi, Tomoko Takashima, Sana Inoue, Laura Martinez, Yoshiaki Sato, Etsuko Nogami, Suzuka Hori, Yasuyo Ito, Yumi Yamanashi, Mari Hirosawa, Mai Nakashima, Akiho Muramatsu, Lira Yu, Sou Ueda, Hirohisa Hirai, Munehiro Okamoto, Kiyoaki Matsubayashi, Takashi Kageyama, Juri Suzuki, Takako Miyabe, Akino Watanabe, Koki Nishiwaki, Norihiko Maeda, Mayumi Morimoto, Rui Hirokawa, Hanako Sasaki, Yasushi Furuhashi, and Naoko Suda from PRI, Koji Ohata from the Graduate School of Medicine of Kyoto University, Keisuke Hirami from Kawamura Gishi Corp., and Mitsuo Tagami from Osaka Rosai Hospital. We thank Miho Nakamura from the Wildlife Research Center of Kyoto University for providing the video images of rehabilitation and Dora Biro for English editing. The present study complied with the Guidelines for Care and Use of Nonhuman Primates (Version 3) laid down by PRI and with the national laws in Japan.

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Correspondence to Misato Hayashi.

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Supplemental video: Face-to-face interaction between Reo, a keeper (SW, right) and a veterinarian (AK,left). While the keeper is grooming the chimpanzee’s face the veterinarian is applying extension rehabilitation to his leg. They also encourage Reo to extend his leg by gestural and verbal instructions (MPG 82984 kb)

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Hayashi, M., Sakuraba, Y., Watanabe, S. et al. Behavioral recovery from tetraparesis in a captive chimpanzee. Primates 54, 237–243 (2013).

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