New technology that performs virtual human dissections is exciting students and faculty alike at East Stroudsburg University.
The Anatomage Table operates through a touch screen that makes it work like a 72-inch iPad. It was delivered to ESU this summer and placed on the second floor of Koehler Fieldhouse.
Dr. Gerald D. Rozea, Chairperson and Program Director of ESU’s Athletic Training Department, thinks students are incredibly excited to use this new technology for a variety of reasons.
“The students love it. Every time I see a student they ask if they can see it or if they can play with it or look at it, so we’re always showing people. And we’ve got other faculty members who are excited about it too. They want to be able to expose their students to it.” Rozea said.
The Anatomage Table has three programmed cadavers (human bodies) which were cut into small sections, photographed and digitally transferred into the table itself, giving students and faculty the ability to observe a real human body in three dimensions.
An important aspect of the Anatomage Table is its labels, which can be removed. Every structure in the body, from bones to muscles to veins is labeled, and can be isolated from overlapping parts, providing students with an exciting new learning opportunity, according to Rozea.
Another amazing aspect, according to Rozea, is the table’s pin function. Basically, students can add a pin to a structure within the cadaver, and then put layers of tissue back on top, while the pin maintains its location within the cadaver.
These functions will allow students and faculty to set up quizzes and units in which students will identify structures and functions of the human body after studying on an actual human cadaver, rather than a textbook or model version.
The latest software update from the Anatomage company (Table 6) gives the user the ability to “fly through” the blood stream to show blood movement as well as two new cadavers, each with their own slight differences and anomalies.
The cadavers donated their bodies upon death for scientific purposes. One cadaver, named Joseph Paul Jernigan, was executed for murder in Texas in 1993. Jernigan was prompted by a prison chaplain to donate his body.
The 38-year-old Jernigan agreed with the chaplain and donated his body for scientific research or medical use.
After a winding road, Jernigan can now be found on ESU’s new Anatomage Table and the HBO documentary Virtual Corpse.
Rozea described the current situation with the Anatomage Table as a “learning curve.” ESU faculty is still learning how to best implement the table into their classrooms.
Rozea said faculty would like to project the entire table onto the projection screen, making it more useful in lectures.
“There’s so much that the table does, that we’re really trying to sort it all out,” said Rozea. “In the interim right now, students are kind of free playing with it and free learning with it, but it will be used for formal instruction in the upcoming semesters.”
The ESU students who will use the Anatomage Table most often are in the College of Health Sciences, including majors in nursing, athletic training, physical education, health teacher education, and communication sciences (formerly known as speech pathology).
Along with those students, biology majors and pre-med students will use the table as well.
Some medical students are using the table as a supplement to their cadaver classes, according to Rozea. The Anatomage Table has a function that allows users to cut through structures and remove them from the top down, revealing the intricate anatomy below.
ESU collects a technology fee from its students every semester.
When it does every department gets the chance to submit a request for new technology because some of the money goes toward upgrades for student learning.
The Anatomage Table was the Athletic Department’s request.
Rozea, with the help of faculty from the Athletic Department, wrote the proposal which was approved by ESU’s Technology Committee in the spring, and the Anatomage Table was brought to campus in the summer.
Rozea thinks the university should get a lot of credit for making this upgrade happen.
“We’re really appreciative that the university is finding ways to use the money (from the tech fee) to benefit students with new technology,” said Rozea.
“So, we’re really excited about the opportunity to do that and the university made that a possibility, so a lot of the credit needs to go to the university.”
According to Rozea, the Anatomage Table cost between $70,000 and $72,000.
The benefits do not stop at new opportunities for student learning either, according to Rozea. When trying to describe the value of the Anatomage Table he had to settle on “priceless.”
“So to have this opportunity for students here, if we were to try and put a price on that, several hundred dollars to one thousand dollars a body, if not more, for multiple students to be able to do that (human dissections), we’re not just in actual cost but in educational aspects, the education that the students are getting (with the Anatomage Table), it’s really priceless.” Rozea said.
According to Rozea, the Anatomage Table will save the university thousands a year and twenty thousand dollars over the next few years. This is because students are now getting the opportunity to perform virtual human dissections, which are superior to actual human dissections, because new cadavers don’t need to be purchased, and more students can take part in the process.
Also, students can learn on their own, without needing a professor to label everything for them.
The importance of anatomy to the College of Health Sciences cannot be understated, according to Rozea.
“Everything that we do in the College of Health Sciences regardless of what the major is, is driven by an underlying knowledge of anatomy,” said Rozea.
“So, the better students are able to understand anatomy, the better students are able to understand pathology or really just about anything.”
Students can access the Anatomage Table by asking a faculty member or visiting during open lab times.
Rozea summarized what the Anatomage Table means to ESU, saying, “we can’t wait to continue to use it.”
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