Haptic Stroke Testbed for Pharmacological Evaluation of Dynamic Allodynia in Mouse Models
Dynamic mechanical allodynia is an aggravating neuropathological condition in which light, physical touch leads to pain. Developing pharmaceutical agents to treat this condition requires extensive animal trials using a mouse model, and a laborious process of manually stroking inflicted mouse paws, with a brush or cotton swab, while recording responses to that stimulus. In this paper, we developed an autonomous testing mechanism to create repeatable stroking sensations for mice during dynamic allodynia testing. The chamber consists of a belt driven brush mechanism and light and dark chambers. Additionally, we conducted a human subjects study to determine the baseline variability in human-performed dynamic allodynia testing. Our tactile stoke display is capable of stroking a mouse paw between 1-5 mm/s with a repeatable force. In our human subject experiments, the user applied force ranged from 0.1-9.0 gF with a maximum standard deviation of 4.13 gF. In contrast, our device is capable of producing repeatable brush strokes at 0.69 gF (SD = 0.13 gF) and 1.78 gF (SD = 0.16 gF) for two brushes. Preliminary animal studies show that normal mice are not disturbed by the stroking sensation; however, mice afflicted with allodynia move away from it. On average the injured mice spent 90% of their time in a bright, adverse environment to avoid the brush, whereas normal mice only spent 40% of their time in the bright environment.