The human touch
Cadaver training gives rehab providers inside look at human body
July 9, 2014
Dr. Alex Hall kept
the mood light as a group of rehabilitation professionals viewed preserved human
organs in Jarvis Hall Science Wing at University of Wisconsin-Stout.
"Wow, look at the
small intestines. Aren't they gorgeous? They're almost like coral, like a coral
reef," Hall said, eliciting soft chuckles from a few of the 10 professionals
When Hall held up a
liver, she noted that the organ is bigger than what humans need. One
professional remarked, "Not in Wisconsin."
Hall, a family practice physician in
Menomonie and an adjunct instructor in biology at UW-Stout, led the group through a series of stations. She carefully handled organs while explaining their importance and pointing out intricate details.
The group was from
the physical rehabilitation department at Mayo Clinic Health System — Red Cedar
in Menomonie. Over two days, 20 providers — 10 each day — took a continuing education
course through UW-Stout's Discovery Center and the university's cadaver program
in the biology department.
The group included physical
therapists, occupational therapists, massage therapists, licensed athletic
trainers and an acupuncturist.
After viewing organs
and discussing anatomy with Hall, the rehabilitation providers really got down
to business. In the middle of the lab were two cadavers on gurneys covered with
When the prosected cadavers
were uncovered from the neck down, the providers showed no hesitation and in
small groups began identifying parts of the body they examine and treat daily.
With skin and tissue
cut away, they were touching the cadavers' actual muscles, nerves, tendons and
One cadaver was on
its back and one on its stomach, each with different internal organs and parts
exposed. One cadaver was male and one female.
identification, the providers, wearing white lab coats, goggles and purple
examination gloves, then dissected four joints on the cadavers: shoulders,
elbows, knees and ankles.
"They can actually
see the muscles they work with everyday," said Jodi Dotseth, director of the rehabilitation
department at Mayo Clinic Health System — Red Cedar. She accompanied the group.
For the training
session, UW-Stout was supplied with a new cadaver with intact muscles and
joints. Three trained UW-Stout undergraduate students did the prosection in
advance, clearing the way for professionals to perform more detailed
One of the rehabilitation
providers, Dr. Paul Greene, said the training was helpful for him as a
professional. "This course brought human anatomy to life. Knowing the integral
structures of the human body is essential and the basis of our jobs," Greene said.
"Dr. Hall was a fantastic instructor. What we learned was directly applied to
our jobs the very next day."
Some in the group previously
had cadaver training in college but others, because of their area of specialty,
had not experienced this level of training, Dotseth said.
Cadavers and science at
Along with UW-Stout,
schools in the UW System with undergraduate cadaver programs are UW-Madison,
UW-La Crosse and UW-Oshkosh, said Professor Ann Parsons, director of UW-Stout's
The cadaver program
is part of UW-Stout's applied science undergraduate major. Students in applied
science can take a preprofessional track, preparing them for further education
in health care, including physical therapy ormedical
Cadaver training for
health-care professionals is one way for UW-Stout to provide community outreach.
The university and Discovery Center hope to provide more training opportunities
at Jarvis Hall, said Charles Bomar, dean of the College of Science, Technology,
Engineering and Mathematics.
The Science Wing was
added to Jarvis Hall, and the Tech Wing was renovated during a $43 million
project that wrapped up in 2010.
Top: With two covered cadavers ready for dissection, Dr. Alex
Hall, center, talks with a group of 10 rehabilitation professionals from Mayo
Clinic Health System — Red Cedar in Menomonie.
Middle: Dr. Alex Hall talks about the brain and spinal cord during
the cadaver training program. Along with cadaver dissection, the training
included viewing and discussing human organs.
Bottom: Ann Parsons