By Kate Hunger
Students in the Departments of Physician Assistant Studies and Occupational Therapy have recently augmented their study of anatomy by using digital dissection tables as part of their curriculum.
The School of Health Professions has seven Anatomage Tables, which feature several segmented cadaveric specimens, both total body and regional anatomy, rendered in high-definition 3D that students can manipulate by touch. The tables allow users to zoom in and out to view anatomical structures such as muscles, arteries, and veins. Users also can upload and manipulate MRI and CT scans.
“They are like big iPads,” said Steven A. “Tony” Skaggs, MPAS-PAC, assistant professor and associate program director for the Department of Physician Assistant Studies. “If you make a mistake, you hit the reset button.”
Fourteen out of 50 questions on a recent PA practical exam required students to interpret structures using an Anatomage Table, Skaggs said, explaining that the tables are available for study after hours, a popular time among students.
Skaggs is studying the effectiveness of the tables as part of his doctoral research. While the Anatomage Tables supplement traditional specimen dissection, Skaggs wants to understand how students who use the tables perform compared to those who do not.
“That’s the question,” he said. “Does digital anatomy have the ability to replace cadaver anatomy? I don’t know.”
Because he supervises the use of the tables, Skaggs has witnessed their enthusiastic reception.
“They took to these tables,” he said. “Students would spend five to six hours a day on (them).”