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Virtual Dissection, Web and Mobile Device Enabled Apps Offer New Ways of Learning, Practicing Medical Sciences


Today's software and hardware tools are enabling some amazing advances in medical training, and how physicians can assess and diagnose medical conditions.

Guest Post by Derek Gurr.

It isn't uncommon for students to have a variety of reactions when they are first introduced to a cadaver lab. These can range from fainting to laughter. It is unsettling for anybody to see a dead human form. It is difficult for many to even dissect a grasshopper without getting squeamish. The idea of cutting open something that was living has kept a lot of people from finding out what lies below the skin.

But not anymore.

The Virtual Cadaver
Virtual Cadaver app The Table from AnatomageA new “interactive anatomy study table” developed by Anatomage, a company which specializes in 3D medical technology, allows students to find out what the inside of a human body looks like without making a single cut. Instead of using a scalpel, students use their finger to make “incisions” in the 3D projection of a human body. The table offers doctors and students an incredibly accurate and detailed image of skeletal and muscle systems.

The potential that this table has is incredible. Colleges without access to a cadaver lab will still have the ability to get to know human anatomy in a personal way. Learning the different parts of the brain becomes much easier when you are physically using your hands to explore a digital recreation of one.

Touchscreen technology allows students to spin, drag, and make incisions in the digital flesh, examining different body parts more closely. In the future, students will be able to take home scans that they looked at during class and view them on their iPad or other mobile devices. Although even a digital representation cannot replace the real thing, it can certainly aid the process and prepare students to explore a real cadaver lab.

Doctors can make scans of patients and then use the scan to educate them. Simply using vocabulary is often confusing to patients; the table will allow them to see both what is wrong and how the treatment process is going to work. This visual explanation can help to alleviate worries and increase the confidence level of concerned patients and families.

The table is one of many recent medical inventions that will help doctors in their work.

Advances in Ultrasound Technology
Early in 2011, a team of students from Brigham Young University in Utah released a protoype of a program to process and store ultrasound images online, as part of a Microsoft tech competition. This program and others like it could enable people in poverty-stricken areas of the world to use ultrasound technology without the need of special viewing equipment. The World Health Organization estimates that 2/3 of the world's inhabitants don't have access to ultrasound technology.

The program they created could help put that technology into the hands of many medical professionals working in smaller clinics. This could greatly facilitate the diagnosis and treatment of thousands of patients in many different countries. The equipment is much more portable than traditional ultrasound equipment. If necessary, physicians could even take it to a patient's home. Once the ultrasound is taken, the image can then be uploaded to the cloud. Once on the cloud, physicians can further analyze the images and store them for future viewing.

iPod Apps
New iPod apps can do everything from helping to diagnose illnesses to taking a patient's pulse. One app even helps doctors to learn medical vocabulary in Spanish. This could greatly improve the experience of patients whose native tongue isn't English. Like many other language apps, the Medical Spanish app includes audio so you can listen to and practice Spanish phrases and other terminology.

Technology is molding medicine in ways that would make Hypocrate's head spin. The advancements we will continue to see in medical education and practice, enabled by virtual, web-enabled, and mobile technologies, are fascinating and empowering. Do you know of similar technologies recently introduced, or waiting in the wings? We'd love to hear about them.

About the Author: Derek Gurr is in charge of writing and editing web content for MyCollegesandCareers.com. My Colleges and Careers helps different individuals determine if an online college education is the route to take to their future career.

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