Saturday, November 10, 2007

Too Little Too Late.

Anatomy Workstation

When i first approached the subject of anatomy, I was completely lost. My first attempt at the subject involved staring at atlases (Netter's). Bad idea. It's impossible to remember anything at all or their relevance to the bigger picture. Imagine looking at a map of France. With dots representing towns. Then try memorizing the name of each dot. Lack of depth. No understanding.

I then tried to read a very comprehensive, descriptive, surgical textbook (Last's Anatomy). I referred to the Netter's atlas to picture what Last's was describing. Trying to comprehend the book was a glorified page-flipfest. Flipping pages of an anatomy atlas over and over was not much fun. Reading two pages took me half an hour! That was no fun.

After months of trying, I am finally able to study the subject at a reasonable speed. Reading Last's was really helpful in giving "depth of meaning*" to descriptive anatomical nomenclature/language. However, it was still one big glorified page-flipfest.

Finally, the page flipping festivals ended with the arrival of the A.D.A.M. Interactive anatomy DVD. It usually costs $150USD, but i managed to get it bundled with a book for only $70USD from Amazon online. It is spectacular. You could dissect a human body from all sides just as you would a cadaver simply by moving a slider bar or rolling the mousewheel.

Now i could study anatomy faster. Covering two pages of Last's in about 15 minutes. But still, I could not cover all that needed to be covered in time for the exam.

Last's is an awesome textbook, but does not give much information about the pathology of clinical conditions resulting from the relevant anatomy it explains.

I ended up using Dartos, a wonderful piece of software by Monash's own lecturer Gerry Ahern. It is brought to us by the Dartos Contractors, as Dr Gerry jovially points out (link). The dartos contractors are amazing. They work hard in the cold! Anyway, it has within it a compilation of interactively labelled images from cadavers and medical imaging (X-ray, CT, MRI). The newest version even has a voiced narrative of each cadaver dissection.

Dartos + A.D.A.M. + Last's is quite possibly all i'd need for anatomy these coming years as an undergraduate. Pictured above is the latest incarnation of my anatomy workstation. A.D.A.M. is running on the monitor, showing multiple views (different angles) of the thigh. Each view can be individually dissected layer by layer with a click of the mouse. Last's is the reference when i want to know more about any muscle/nerve/vein/bone/landmark described in Dartos. A.D.A.M. let's me understand what Last's is describing.

I received the A.D.A.M. DVD a week before the finals. In the end, I only managed to cover about two fifths of the anatomy scyllabus.

Damn. I will not let this happen ever again. When i look at the map of france now I go on a virtual roadtrip. A.D.A.M. labels all the towns and cities vividly and makes each place easily serchable. Last's textbook lays down detailed information about the roads that connect the towns and cities. Dartos describes to me important landmarks. For redundancy, I keep an image of my computer's hard-drive (flourescent orange external disk in the picture). So even if my hard disk suddenly dies, and is replaced with a blank one, I could get my workstation back in less than half an hour.

*Thoughts/Understandings invoked when i read a particular word.

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