A study determines human anatomy is a cornerstone of medical and nursing education. They are able to gain hands-on experience by working with human cadavers and then manipulating finely detailed, computer-generated, three-dimensional renditions of the human body and its parts in a special laboratory.

Moving from studying actual physical specimens to examining virtually simulated versions in an interactive lab, and switching again to human cadavers (dubbed Silent Mentors) allows students to gain a deeper and fuller understanding of the intricate relationships among the various body structures.

The computer-simulated human anatomy system was recently launched by the Centre for Healthcare Simulation at NUS Medicine to enhance the teaching and learning of human anatomy, said Centre Director Associate Professor Suresh Pillai. Called the Virtual Interactive Human Anatomy or VIHA, the system supplements and complements the traditional anatomy classes that are so essential and fundamental to medical studies.

VIHA improves the three-dimensional spatial orientation of anatomical structures as students get to interact with the virtual human body, such as removing body parts and viewing them from multiple angles. VIHA bridges the gap between textbook learning and dissection in an anatomy hall.

In addition to prosection classes, where they study and work with cadavers that have already been dissected by experts, many students also attend the elective whole body dissection course. This provides opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience in cadaveric dissection.

Human Anatomy

They navigate the human anatomy at their own pace, reviewing and reinforcing complex spatial relationships of anatomical structures like muscles, bones, nerves, arteries, veins, and organs. Animation of joint movements has also been incorporated to highlight muscle actions in producing certain movements. This helps students with visualization and gives them a better understanding of the connection between the various structures. The combination of hands-on training and virtual reality experience takes the teaching of Human Anatomy to a whole new level. 

Furthermore, VIHA separates itself from the Anatomy Hall as it allows the user to freely manipulate and isolate various structures which may be difficult to appreciate, such as the courses of arteries, veins, and nerves, which are difficult to observe and appreciate when using a specimen in the anatomy hall.

More complex interactive training scenarios will also be introduced in the coming months, a 3D virtual environment platform that will create life-like scenarios, such as a hospital ward emergency or a mass casualty incident. These scenarios will immerse students in challenging virtual environments, where they will learn to work as teams to manage patients, applying clinical knowledge and skills that they have learned.