A primary test of the upgraded M-Platform


The M-Platform is a robotic device for mice that mimics a human robot device for upper limb stroke rehabilitation (the “arm-guide”) [1]. This platform allows head-fixed mice to carry out intensive and highly repeatable exercises with the forelimb, specifically repeated sessions of forelimb retraction [2]. The new upgrade of the M-Platform is the design of a component providing a variable level of friction to the slide (FIG 1).

FIG 1 blog
(FIG 1) The new component of the M-Platform used to finely control the static friction acting on the slide movement. It is composed of felt pad contacting the slide (2) moved by a screw connected to a servo motor (1), controlled by a microcontroller. The working area of the animal (3) is not obstructed by the new component.

To test the upgraded M-Platform, an experimental protocol has been designed. The experimental group consists of mice performing a two-weeks training with high friction (0.5N)  which are compared to a control group (training with a lower friction (0.3N)). We measured also isometric force during the pulling performance. First results have shown higher isometric force and better performance for high-trained animals compared to controls (FIG 2).


FIG 2 blog
(FIG 2) Preliminary results after a protocol to evaluate the effect of the friction in the pulling task (trials). The protocol consists of a 2 weeks of training, 10 trials/day per 4 days, for two groups of animals. A slight change of the training condition can modify the strength performed by healthy animals.

This experiment has been designed not to use injured (e.g. stroke) animals but healthy ones. In this way a possible translation to the complete NRP model (comprising also the point neuron model simulating motor cortex and biomechanical model) should be more feasible.

[1] Reinkensmeyer DJ, Kahn LE, Averbuch M, McKenna-Cole A, Schmit BD, Rymer WZ (2000). Understanding and treating arm movement impairment after chronic brain injury: progress with the ARM guide. J Rehabil Res Dev 37; 653-662.
[2] Spalletti C, Lai S, Mainardi M, Panarese A, Ghionzoli A, Alia C, Gianfranceschi L, Chisari C, Micera S, Caleo M (2014). A robotic system for quantitative assessment and poststroke training of forelimb retraction in mice. Neurorehabil Neural Repair 28: 188-196.

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