Back in the Anatomy Lab…

By Brett Windsor, PT

I’ve had the chance over the last few weeks to get back into the anatomy lab working with our first year students at Campbell. It’s my first time in the lab since I was in school…a little while ago now. Geez I wish I had known then what I know now!! Looking at things completely differently now…although it’s much easier without having to pass exams.

A few things have really struck  me this time around:

  1. Anatomy books bear little relationship to reality. 2 dimensions versus 3 dimensions. Enough said.
  2. Anomalies are the norm…the norm is the anomaly. For example, in 3 of the 8 cadavers our class is using, the rectus capitus posterior minor has completed blended with the major, both attaching to the spinous process of C2.
  3. In unhealthy people…muscles are distinctly so…especially the postural extensors. Strengthening this area and maintaining an erect posture is ever more critical. Immobility is brutal.
  4. All those stories of neck muscles and fatty deposits…we observed extensive fatty deposits in the splenius capitis and semi-spinalis capitis posteriorly. We haven’t got to the anterior yet.
  5. There’s really no such thing as an isolated muscle action – the degree to which muscles and fascia blend and intertwine (especially in the trunk), is quite remarkable.
  6. The spinal cord is small, and beautifully protected within the spinal canal through a combination of denticulate ligaments, dura and the CSF. Nerve roots are even smaller…and have a seemingly endless capacity to avoid pressure. The cauda equina is a remarkable structure…and extremely vulnerable to a central low lumbar disc lesion.
  7. You think you can palpate small movements in the SI joint? O…K…
  8. The latissimus dorsi is a monster of a muscle…easy to see why lumbopelvic problems are often implicated in rotator cuff tendinitis.
  9. The vertebral artery was interesting to chase down…it’s not that far from the surface. Easy to see why rotary techniques are problematic in some cases.
  10. The human body is, quite simply, an incredibly beautiful and well-designed machine. Nothing is wasted – everything is there for a reason.

Many others too, but those were the ones that came to mind. It’s great to have this opportunity and we’re looking forward to spending more time working with the students this semester. Great stuff.



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