Spinal cord injury (SCI) is a devastating neurological injury. At present, pharmacological, regenerative, and rehabilitative approaches are widely studied as therapeutic interventions for motor recovery after SCI. Preclinical research has been performed on model animals with experimental SCI, and those studies often evaluate hand and arm motor function using various indices, such as the success rate of the single pellet reaching test and the grip force. However, compensatory movement strategies, involuntary muscle contraction, and the subject's motivation could affect the scores, resulting in failure to assess direct recovery from impairment. Identifying appropriate assessments of motor impairment is thus important for understanding the mechanisms of motor recovery. In this study, we developed a motion capture system capable of reconstructing three-dimensional hand positions with millimeter and millisecond accuracy and evaluated hand kinematics during food retrieval movement in both healthy and hemispinalized common marmosets. As a result, the endpoint jerk, representing the accuracy of hand motor control, was asserted to be an appropriate index of upper limb motor impairment by eliminating the influence of the subject's motivation, involuntary muscle contraction, and compensatory strategies. The result also suggested that the kinematics of the limb more consistently reflects motor restoration from deficit due to spinal cord injury than the performance in the single pellet reaching test. Because of recent attention devoted to the common marmoset as a nonhuman primate model for human diseases, the present study, which clarified arm-reaching movements in spinalized marmosets, provides fundamental knowledge for future therapeutic studies.
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