Young, M., Lawson, G. W., Duarte-Vogel, S. et al. 2014. Minimizing symptoms and stress in seizure-prone mice by using acupressure during routine handling. American Association for Laboratory Animal Science [AALAS] Meeting Official Program, 555 (Abstract #P29).

Many laboratory mice used in research experience spontaneous seizures during cage changing and routine handling. The triggers are usually the abrupt sound and sudden motion of the cage. These seizures can range from mild to severe, often resulting in uncontrollable convulsions and possibly leading to injury or death of the animal. Animal technicians and animal health technicians have no recourse other than to observe and handle the animals more gently, but this does not stop nor prevent seizures from occurring in the future. Such seizure episodes occur on at least a weekly basis, each time the cage is changed. In some cases of seizures in humans and canines, acupressure has been shown to halt and minimize seizure severity. This study tested acupressure techniques to minimize seizure symptoms in laboratory mice. Using a stopwatch, the seizures of individual seizure-prone mice housed in our facilities were timed to establish a baseline/control. Various anatomic locations including the tail, ears, and feet had acupressure applied manually during weekly cage changing, then timed and compared for effectiveness. Mice with spontaneous seizures of various strains were tested, using each of the aforementioned acupoints. The control seizures lasted an average of 34 s. The acupressure-assisted seizure lasted an average of 23 s. The most notable display of success occurred with a mouse whose control seizure of 34 s was reduced to 9 s when acupressure was applied to the right ear. Although there was not one particular anatomic location which proved most successful over all others, analysis did reveal that using this technique was an improvement over not using it. Statistical analysis of the data resulted in a P 0.0046 indicating strong evidence against the null hypothesis. In some cases the seizure activity stopped altogether after several weeks of testing during cage changing. This is a simple and practical technique that can be implemented as a routine response to handling seizure-prone mice and reducing the detrimental effects of their seizure episodes.

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