Photographic Dissector for Students of Physical Therapy: A Step-by-Step Approach is designed to facilitate a mixed approach to cadaveric human dissection for students of physical therapy. The first three chapters pursue a musculoskeletal dissection of the back; the shoulder and upper limb; and the gluteal region and the lower limb. This emphasis on muscle function, nerve innervation, arterial supply, and joint movements reflects the core of the physical therapy toolset. The sequence is designed to supplement didactic information on the spinal cord afferents and efferents, embryologic development, physiological activity, and histological anatomy where relevant. These sections are designed to require approximately 60 to 70 hours of laboratory dissection to accomplish.
The second portion of book transitions to the visceral structures by first exploring the neck and head, with its subsequent craniotomy and bisection to reveal the brain, orbit, pharynx, and larynx. These dissections benefit from an understanding of the embryological development of the head, especially that of the pharyngeal arches and the more detailed functional modalities of the nerves of the head and body, aside from the simplistic afferent and efferent functions of sensory and motor components. The head and neck dissection, with the gross brain, should take approximately 40 hours of laboratory time to complete.
After exploring the head and neck, it is a simple matter to follow the structures of the neck into the thorax where the heart and lung dissections can take place. The abdomen follows, with an emphasis on the arterial supply and vascular drainage of the visceral organs, leading into the pelvis and ultimately the perineum, capping a final 40 hours in the laboratory and the complete dissection of the human body.
However, the chapters and dissections have been written to be completely independent of each other. The sequence can be easily re-arranged to suit any curriculum while maintaining the benefits of the step-by-step approach.
This Dissector has been specifically modeled to follow the curriculum of Doctor of Physical Therapy programs, which often includes simultaneous courses in kinesiology and physiology. This dissection sequence benefits from, but does not require, concurrent study of kinesiology with musculoskeletal dissection, and physiology with the central nervous system and visceral dissections.
Furthermore, this Dissector features clinical descriptions common to the Doctor of Physical Therapy that bring to life the anatomical structures and that provide a meaning to the laboratory work while inspiring diagnostic thinking about structure and function.
Clinical correlates appear in boxes like this one throughout the book, providing important information about function and dys-function in order to inspire diagnostic thought. Look for these, and use them as further learning opportunities. These examples are drawn from real clinical practice and should inspire a curiosity in you. It is important to use these as a starting point for further academic study, and not as conclusive or complete examples. These correlates may appear in future tests of your skills, as well as in your clinical career.
Each chapter contains a checklist of important structures, the terms in bold within the step-by-step instructions, which provides a reference for studying. Also, chapters contain licensing exam-style multiple choice questions. Answers to those questions, along with explanations and strategies for working through the questions, can be found in the back of the book.
Use these features to hone your diagnostic thought processes, as your clinically-related education becomes more focused on problem solving and not simple memorization. For each structure you dissect, you should know at least three things about it—where it comes from, where it is going, and what it does. In this way, you can check yourself during examinations by confirming the structure in multiple ways. Just like you would plug a number into a math equation to check your work, triangulating the what, where, and how of a structure allows you to check your anatomical knowledge.
While the pictures in this Dissector are meant to give you a good perspective on the structures and what your completed dissections should look like, they are not meant to be an exhaustive or exclusive look at human anatomy. It is recommended that you use a multitude of sources, including various atlases, for your studies in anatomy and neuroscience, as each source you use will have a slightly different perspective on the structures you dissect. These are not disparate pieces of information. These differences are unique perspectives that require you to synthesize and identify structures so that you can recognize the variability in the bodies of patients. A critical part of your anatomical and neuroscience education is learning to work within this ambiguity, as it is part of the diagnostic thought process that you will practice every day in the clinic. This also means your study habits must change, as memorization will not allow you to succeed in the ambiguity and variability of life.
Lastly, practice while you learn by taking an active approach. You have asked yourself to become an expert in this information, so you must practice working with the information expertly. Draw structures from scratch, without using your notes. Talk through the structures the what, where, and how with your peers in order solidify what you know, and practice describing structures as you would to your future patients. This material forms the basis of the clinical field, and your knowledge of it will be directly reflected in your success and the success of your patients.