McMillan, J. L., Bloomsmith, M. A., Prescott, M. J. 2017. An international survey of approaches to chair restraint of nonhuman primates. Comparative Medicine 67(5), 442–451.
Specifically designed restraint chairs are the preferred method of restraint for research studies that require NHP to sit in place for sustained periods of time. In light of increasing emphasis on refinement of restraint to improve animal wellbeing, it is important to have a better understanding of this potentially stressful procedure. Although chair restraint is used internationally, very little published information is available on this subject. We developed a survey to obtain an overview of equipment, procedures, and plans for improvement regarding chair restraint. We received 101 responses from people working in academic, government, contract research, and pharmaceutical laboratories within the Americas, Europe and Asia. Findings indicate that the majority of laboratories using restraint chairs work with macaque species. Restraint chairs are used for a wide range of procedures, including cognitive testing, recording neuronal activity, functional MRI, intravenous infusion, and blood sampling. Approximately 2/3 of laboratories use an enclosed ‘box chair,’ which the animal is trained to enter and then to extend its head through an opening on the top of the chair; the remaining one third of laboratories use an ‘open chair’ design, in which manual handling or the pole-and-collar system is used to transfer and secure the animal into the chair. Respondents reported that when selecting the type of chair to use, they considered comfort for the animal, ease of use, and the ability to adjust fit between animals of different sizes. Various training methods and timeframes are used to prepare macaques for restraint chair procedures. Several laboratories are incorporating greater use of positive reinforcement training. The community that uses these restraint procedures needs to work together to define best practice; our survey results can help in that effort.