Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability worldwide and survivors are frequently left with long-term disabilities that diminish their autonomy and result in the need for chronic care. There is an urgent need for the development of therapies that improve stroke recovery, as well as accurate and quantitative tools to measure function. Nonhuman primates closely resemble humans in neuroanatomy and upper limb function and may be crucial in randomized pre-clinical trials for testing the efficacy of stroke therapies. To test the feasibility of robotic assessment of motor function in a NHP model of stroke, two cynomolgus macaques were trained to perform a visually guided reaching task and were also assessed in a passive stretch task using the Kinarm robot. Strokes were then induced in these animals by transiently occluding the middle cerebral artery, and their motor performance on the same tasks was assessed after recovery. Relative to pre-stroke performance, post-stroke hand movements of the affected limb became slower and less accurate. Regression analyses revealed both recovered and compensatory movements to complete movements in different spatial directions. Lastly, we noted decreased range of motion in the elbow joint of the affected limb post-stroke associated with spasticity during passive stretch. Taken together, these studies highlight that sensorimotor deficits in reaching movements following stroke in cynomolgus macaques resemble those in human patients and validate the use of robotic assessment tools in a nonhuman primate model of stroke for identifying and characterizing such deficits.
Keywords: Kinarm; Macaque; Nonhuman primate; Stroke; Translational research.