New cadaver technology comes to WSCC
That’s the maxim those teaching anatomy and physiology have had to live by for many years.
“It’s still a great tool to have cadavers and a cadaver lab to teach and show students where different muscles are,” explained Trisha Schaad, a professor of nursing at Washington State Community College.
But students now signing up for classes at the Marietta campus will see more than just two cadavers when taking anatomy classes at the community college–and they won’t be limited by the one-cut rule as they’re learning.
There’s a room in the health sciences area which is being converted into a different sort of lab, though with the human body still at its focus.
On a table the size of a gurney sits a touchscreen display, loaded with each layer, system, organ and bone of the human body.
“This is complementary, a virtual cadaver that allows more interaction with the students,” described Dr. Heather Kincaid, dean of health sciences. “Really the applications within health sciences are limited only by the instructor’s imagination and time to load and apply to their classes.”
Schaad said the school obtained the Anamotage Table last summer and instructors spent the fall semester getting trained on its capabilities and planning its uses within nursing, physical therapy and massage therapy.
“But there’s even a turtle and a dog on here, so there’s a veterinary application available, too,” added Kincaid.
The table is essentially a human-sized iPad or tablet, with the capability to turn over the human subject, visualize each system from circulatory to nervous, and to interact with each organ.
“We can do a fly-through, say of the heart,” Kincaid explained. “It reminds me of the Magic School Bus show my kids used to watch.”
One can even watch blood flow occur, pumping out from the heart to the fingertips.
And its application in interactive learning has Schaad excited.
“I can place pins all over a body, having students identify the landmarks on the skin while then peeling back the layers to see why those landmarks indicate where we’re going,” she explained as she pointed out layers of muscle making up the male cadaver’s backside. “That can be a quiz or an exam, or even in open student labs they can come in and make it a game as they learn these different structures.”
The table is only the first of a goal for investment in the health services department of the college, too.
“It was about $100,000 but we’re looking for more because the table can be linked to more screens,” Kincaid explained. “Right now you’re limited by how many students you can fit around the table. But if we can get the funds to put up screens around the room then we can have a PowerPoint on one with the material, with other screens showing more of what’s happening on the table so more students can watch.”
The table even has the capability for high-definition screenshots to be taken, allowing for quizzing and exams to integrate the program online.
“What’s also neat about this is each body that’s loaded into the program was an actual person who donated their body to science,” said Kincaid.
That means the virtual cadavers aren’t “perfect” human specimens. Some had cancer or other diseases which can be explored interactively through the table.
Another feature which is only available in this form of virtual reality is the release of gravity constraints.
“I can unlock the table and stand this up,” explained Schaad as she pulled two levers and stood the screens vertically. “Now we can again get a feel for the size of the patient or see how the impacts we were talking about in that cross-section apply.”
Classes officially start at the community college Tuesday, but Kincaid pointed out enrollment continues for this semester through Thursday.