Medical students and post-graduate medical specialists, for example, physicians, surgeons, anaesthesiologists and gynaecologists require more than a simple impression of anatomy. A consensus exists that the study of anatomy by dissection provides the most realistic command of continuity, and embryological forming, essential for safe, effective clinical practice in medicine. Evidence demonstrates effective pedagogies are linked to teacher behaviour, level of teacher knowledge and understanding of anatomy. Importantly, a student’s metacognition is significantly influenced by a teachers beliefs. For example, teaching an anatomy of ‘parts,’ without due attention to continuity, can compound a student’s belief that the human body has discontinuous ‘parts’ therefore lacking the “wholistic” continuity implicit in the tensegrity model of biologic form. Classically, anatomy has long been taught in continuity with embryology, physiology and histology, providing a robust academic foundation in the adjacency of form and function. This illustrates an existing recognition that the human body works as a wholistic entity and that any re-arrange mentor change can affect the global health of an individual. Medical anatomy teachers should, therefore, possess the pedagogical knowledge to support an accurate vision of a wholistic, unified body.

It should be recognised that the connective tissue fascia, and its ubiquitous nature, has, for decades been neglected and underappreciated in spite of the efforts of several prominent anatomists to draw attention to it. Surgeons in training need to be aware that knowledge of fascia anatomy allows for minimally disrupting connective tissue in one body region thereby significantly reducing risk of pain and loss of function in local or more anatomically distant regions. Teaching anatomy using classical methods of dissection and prosection does not have to remain an outdated exercise in cutting up tissue (anatomy, from ‘temnein’ to cut) for the express purpose of memorising parts. Through appreciating fascial continuities, dissection methods can and are undergoing modernisation through soft-fix technologies as well as tissue-sparing dissection methods. These pedagogic innovations are in double service to the study of anatomy, in that they encourage the wholistic view of the tensegral human form and its function. Such a view is considered to be more suited to a medical curriculum fit for the 21st century.

John Sharkey – MSc

John Sharkey is an international educator, author and authority in the areas of clinical anatomy, exercise science, human movement and the manual treatment of chronic pain. He is a graduate of the University of Dundee, University of Liverpool and University of Chester. He completed undergraduate and post-graduate studies in the areas of exercise physiology, clinical anatomy and holds a post-graduate certificate in education. He is currently a senior lecturer within the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Life Sciences, University of Chester/NTC, Dublin and is the programme leader of the Biotensegrity focused Thiel soft fix cadaver dissection courses department of anatomy and human identification, Dundee University, Scotland.

John has been delivering human anatomy dissection courses for many years teaching the geometry of anatomy and movement from the unique Biotensegrity-Anatomy for the 21st Century perspective. His presentations are respectful, dynamic, entertaining, educational and insightful.

John promotes his model of “Biotensegrity-anatomy for the 21st century” integrating the pioneering work of his mentor Dr. Stephen Levin MD. John has been teaching European Neuromuscular Therapy using living anatomy and specialising in chronic pain conditions. He is recognised as one of the worlds leading authorities on fascia and Biotensegrity. He is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies (JBMT), International Journal of Osteopathic Medicine and other professional journals.

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