Anatomy labs allow students to learn about the human body

Feb. 16, 2015

Samantha Morley
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Biology students get a full hands-on experience when it comes to learning about human anatomy.

The anatomy labs on the fourth floor of the Osborne building host cadavers for students to learn about the human body. The labs are designed for nursing, premedical and pre-physical training majors, but anyone interested in learning anatomy can take the courses.

Andrea Davaro, senior biology exercise science major, took the human anatomy biology 4350 course and learned about the various parts of the human body, starting with muscles.

The muscles are already dissected so students can focus on what they are and where they go. The same is done for the bones and blood vessels.

“It was really interesting because you do learn a lot more on the cadavers because you can really get in there and actually trace where it’s running,” she said.

“Whereas with a plastic model, it’s just one piece and you can’t do much with it. You don’t get a full sense of it until you’re actually working with the cadaver.”

Kiara Nath, senior biology pre-med major, assists in the dissection of the cadavers. Her goal is to eventually become a surgeon.

“One of the easier ways to learn how to do some surgery and learn some of the aspects of anatomy was to actually be the one doing the dissections and doing the cutting,” she said.

When students are introduced to the cadavers, the bodies’ hands, feet and face are covered to make the experience less traumatic.

“I did stand back a bit at first but once I got used to it I got up closer and I started working with the cadaver,” Davaro said.

Travis Loos, biology instructor, graduated in 2013. His goal is to become a pharmacist, but he currently teaches in the anatomy labs.

“As a student, it took me about a good month and a half before I really got into the cadaver and really got comfortable with it,” Loos said.

“You really see how all the tissues work together in the body and it’s not just a model where it’s clean. It’s all right there and it’s the best way to learn anatomy because it really forces you to learn the anatomy.”

Students learn about the muscles, tissues, nerve, tendons, bones and organs of the body.

According to associate biology professor Jon Pigage, the cadavers come from Denver. They are prepared by the Denver Medical School and distributed to various medical schools around the state after approval from the Colorado Anatomical Board.

UCCS must go through an extensive process in order to receive cadavers.

The cadavers are considered anatomical gifts. Before their death, the people and their families must consent to the gifting of the body before it will be accepted by the Board. According to Pigage, if even one family member disagrees then the body cannot be donated.

There are also very strict rules when entering the labs and being around the cadavers.

Students are not allowed to give the bodies nicknames or in any way refer to them in demeaning or derogatory ways. Tablets, phones or any devices that can take photos are not permitted. The windows on the lab doors are also boarded up so that tour groups aren’t able to look in.

A letter issued by the Board is posted on the doors stating that photography is not permitted within the anatomy labs and that it is a felony to distribute any photos of the cadavers.

UCCS is permitted to keep the cadavers for up to one year. Then the bodies are sent to a crematorium. The ashes, along with a personal identification tag for the cadaver, are delivered in an urn to the families.

Both Pigage and biology instructor Sabine Allenspach stress that abiding by the rules and showing the utmost respect for the cadavers is crucial for students to remember.

“It’s all about respecting the body,” Allenspach said. “It is really a blessing to have human bodies in an undergraduate school.”