Anatomy class dissects cadavers
December 7, 2007
Kinesiology is the study of human movement, and what better way to understand human anatomy than to see the muscles, nerves, organs and bones in a real human body?
For this purpose, the College offers kinesiology 303: human anatomy. Not for the faint of heart, this class offers students an opportunity to learn anatomy as they dissect the body of a deceased individual.
Usually, the College receives two bodies per semester from people who specified in their wills to be donated for the furthering of education and science. When the bodies come to the College, there is very little information provided about the individual. Their names remain anonymous and the cause of death is rarely given.
After the bodies have been studied, they are cremated and their ashes are placed in graves.
While other Virginia universities such as James Madison University and Old Dominion University also have human anatomy labs with bodies, most undergraduate universities do not allow the students to dissect and get hands-on experience; that privilege is usually reserved for graduate students.
Since it offers such a unique experience, the class has continued to gain popularity over the last 20 years at the College.
The class is open to all students — you do not have to be a kinesiology major to participate in the lecture or lab.
Regardless of a student’s major, the experience in human anatomy lab always proves to be unique and fascinating, kinesiology professor Raymond McCoy said.
“Some are hesitant and unsure, and some are excited,” McCoy said. “However, all of the apprehension goes away within five to 10 minutes. It’s interesting to see the changes of the body in the lifetime — enlarged hearts, intestines, broken bones fused back together. You dissect an area and it doesn’t look like the pictures in the book.”
Jamie Weinfeldt ’04, a teaching assistant in the kinesiology department, still remembers her first experiences in the human anatomy lab.
“Both female cadavers had had hysterectomies and one male’s bicep muscle split into three heads instead of the normal two,” Weinfeldt said. “It was crazy to see staples and old scars and look at the human form from a whole new perspective. I continue to be amazed and am constantly learning even as a teacher.”
This method of learning expands on information from the textbook and knowledge from the lecture, while preparing students for future dissection experiences.
“I think it’s the best way to learn anatomy, and I am privileged that I was able to do so as an undergrad,” Weinfeldt said. “It’s a great class and makes you appreciate life in a whole new manner.”