The Anatomy Atlas
“The human body essentially recreates itself every six months. Nearly every cell of hair and skin and bone dies and another is directed to its former place. You are not who you were last November.”
― Donald Miller
This section is tailor-made for people who take an active interest in how the body functions and who already have a good grasp of what takes place in the body on a daily basis. Welcome to our "road map" to the body - what we call The Anatomy Atlas.
From the beginning of mankind, there have been people who have dedicated their lives to studying how the body works, why it becomes ill and why and how it ages. Even for those people who do not plan to spend their working years in careers related to health care, understanding the body can offer a great deal of satisfaction. Not only can such people have knowledgeable discussions with their health care professionals, they can also understand treatments for certain ailments and critically evaluate the various procedures and supplements available to the public at large.
The study of anatomy and physiology can also help an individual make better choices regarding the activities they indulge in and how they can be thought of as beneficial or detrimental to the body.
Human anatomy actually encompasses all of the various structures which make up the entire individual. In a very confined sense, human anatomy deals merely with the total being and those parts which are evident to the eye through various methods of dissection. From this standpoint, human anatomy can be studied through two different methods:
- Systemic Anatomy - Where the various structures are considered separately.
- Topographical or Regional Anatomy - When the tissues and organs are studied in relation to one another.
When studying Systemic Anatomy, the various systems of the human body can be grouped under the following headings.
Osteology - The skeleton or bony system.
Syndesmology - The joints or articulations.
Myology - This heading is for the muscles. Along with the muscles, it is important to include the fasciae, which are intimately connect with muscles.
Angiology - This is the vascular system, which includes the heart, blood vessels, lymph glands and lymph vessels.
Neurology - The body's nervous system. The organs of sense are also included in this system.
Splanchnology - The visceral system. When looked at topographically, the viscera are formed into two groups: the thoracic viscera and the abdomino-pelvic viscera. Although the heart is a thoracic viscera, it is best to consider it as part of the vascular system.
Anatomy can actually be divided into many different subdivisions. Macroscopic, or gross anatomy, is the study of the large body structures which are visible to the naked eye such as the lungs, heart and kidneys. Even the term "anatomy," which is derived from the Greek language and means "to cut apart," suggests the meaning truly refers to gross anatomy, where organs are dissected to be studied.
Surface anatomy is another subdivision of gross anatomy and involves the study of internal structures as they relate to the skin which is overlying the surface. Surface anatomy is used to identify such varied subjects as the protruding muscles of a bodybuilder to the use by clinicians for locating blood vessels.
Microscopic anatomy is the study of structures which are too small to be seen with the naked eye. For these examinations, thin slices of body tissues are stained and mounted on glass slides to be examined under microscopes. These studies can be further broken down to the study of the cells (cytology) and the study of tissues (histology).
Developmental anatomy traces the structural changes which take place in the body over a person's entire lifespan. A subdivision of this is developmental anatomy, which studies the changes which occur before birth.
The study of physiology involves the function of the body, or how the body parts work together to maintain their life-sustaining activities. Physiology also has several different subdivisions, including:
- Renal Physiology - This study is related to kidney function and the production of urine.
- Cardiovascular Physiology - The heart and blood vessels are studied in this subdivision.
- Neurophysiology - This science defines the nervous system and how it works.
The body's ability to function on any level depends on the functioning of its individual cells and the chemical reactions which take place in them. The principles of physics are also relied on to explain the body's physiology, particularly for such functions as blood pressure, electrical currents, and the way in which muscles use bones to achieve body movements.
Although it is sometimes preferred to study anatomy and physiology separately, these two sciences are truly inseparable due to the fact that function is always a reflection of structure. Or, what a specific structure can accomplish is dependent upon its form. This concept is known as the principle of complementarity of structure and function.
An example of this is how bones can protect and support the organs of the body because they contain hard deposits of minerals. Another is that blood flows in one direction through the heart because the heart is equipped with valves which prevent the backflow of blood.
An essential tool for studying anatomy and physiology is to master the appropriate terminology for these sciences. Other tools are the ability to observe the various functions, manipulate them, utilize palpation (feeling organs with the hands) and listen to the organs' sounds with the use of a stethoscope.
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