Excerpt taken from Original SOURCE article: Under the goggles: Human Virtual Anatomy Project revolutionizes classroom and clinic, April 26, 2019, by Rhea Maze
“Goggles on, I stuck my head inside a patient’s chest and looked around as his lungs moved rhythmically with each breath. The image, made up of 10 CT scans taken in succession, was on display in three dimensions, plus the fourth dimension of time. If I were this patient’s surgeon, one of the infinite things I could do is measure the exact distance his lungs move when he breathes to find the best place to operate. “For the first time ever, we can pull up any research or medical image, such as a CT or MRI scan, and in less than a minute be walking around inside of it,” said Tod Clapp, an assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and head of its human anatomy program.
His team’s groundbreaking Human Virtual Anatomy Project, developed in 2017, is on a mission to revolutionize medical education. Along the way, it’s become apparent that it can do far more than that, and the team comes up with new ideas every day. The project began with a desire to make the study of human anatomy more accessible, intuitive, and impactful for students by visualizing and manipulating magnified models of the brain, nervous system, and other structures of the body in all dimensions. It can now interact in depth with virtually any type of research or medical image, allowing specific parts to be manipulated, dissected from any plane, or viewed separately on command, such as by stripping away layers of skin, muscle, and bone to walk through heart valves or follow the path of brain signals. And one of the program’s most powerful tools is its capacity to have multiple people interact in the same virtual space at the same time, providing endless opportunities for students, teachers, clinicians, and researchers across the world to collaborate, teach, and learn.
Students started taking classes in the brand-new Health Education Outreach Center on CSU’s main campus this past spring. In a few months, the HEOC will house a first-of-its-kind virtual reality lab. Students are already using part of the virtual anatomy program on iPads, which allows them to interact with and dissect a three-dimensional human model and enhances the knowledge gained from their work with actual cadavers. By next fall, the team hopes to have the entire virtual reality program up and running in the new building and seamlessly integrated into the already robust curriculum, where it will drastically improve student learning and provide a world-class space for continuing medical education.
The Health Education Outreach Center provides needed space for greater numbers of students to pursue science and medicine; attracts new cohorts of future health care professionals to Colorado; and provides greater opportunities for public engagement. The center’s partnership with the National Western Centerwill bring its renowned hands-on educational outreach programs in health care and the life sciences to visiting students and families from around the world. The virtual reality lab will allow the new building to host a variety of continuing medical education programs and has already attracted interest from fields ranging from emergency medicine and nursing to dentistry and yoga teacher training.
“This is the benchmark facility for gross anatomy and neuroanatomy education in the nation,” said Tod Clapp, an assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and head of its human anatomy program. “The new Human Virtual Anatomy Project will complement our robust curriculum. When students learn anatomy, they are learning about the importance of the relationships between structures, and you can’t truly do that anywhere but in a three-dimensional environment.””