Watch video- Paralysed chimpanzee walks again with the help of a touch-screen
A chimpanzee has learned to walk again after being paralysed due to illness.
Tokyo: A male chimpanzee has learned to walk again after being paralysed due to illness.
Japanese researchers for the first time have rehabilitated a paralysed chimpanzee through interaction with computers and touch screens.
The chimp named Reo was 24 in 2006 when an illness left part of his spinal cord inflamed.
Yoko Sakuraba of Kyoto University who is the lead author said that the case of Reo shows how much can be done to rehabilitate animals injured in captivity.
Reo's example suggests that euthanasia does not have to be the only option for injured animals
The case was described in an article in Primates, 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 paralysed from the neck down, dedicated staff put this technology to further use by encouraging the animal to walk again.
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.
To aid Reo's ultimate integration back among the other twelve animals held at the institute, his carers decided to try to get him walking again.
They incorporated a computerised task in this process. This was considered an option because in his youth Reo had learnt how to perform cognitive tasks on a touch panel, and in so doing had become used to receiving food rewards whenever he succeeded at tasks presented to him.
A computer-controlled monitor was, therefore, placed on one wall, and cognitive tasks were again put to him.
The rehabilitation sessions encouraged him to increase his movements considerably, and he started walking up to five hundred metres in a two-hour session.
"Cognitive tasks may be a useful way to rehabilitate physically disabled chimpanzees, and thus improve their welfare in captivity," Sakuraba said.
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Video credit: current events/YouTube
(With IANS inputs)