Your browser does not support JavaScript!

:::

中文版    
 

 

New Course in VR Anatomy Offered at the Department of Medical Science
In addition to gaming and films, virtual reality (VR) can also be used to teach human anatomy, and the Department of Medical Science has recently purchased ten VR systems for use in the course “Human Anatomy: A Virtual Reality Approach” taught for the first time in this spring semester. In the course, students will use a VR headset and joystick to view the entire human body layer by layer, including various organs that are not readily visible in conventional dissection, such as arteries, veins, and nerves.
 
Director Chen Linyi of the Department of Medical Science said that her department emphasizes basic science and applied medicine, and teaches students how to conduct research on disease pathology and how to develop medical equipment and pharmaceuticals. For example, graduates of the department might work on the development of a blood test for detecting various abnormalities; or they might conduct research on cancer metastasis mechanisms, or on how to promote nerve regeneration after brain injury, or on whether gastrointestinal bacteria cause neurodegenerative diseases. However, a solid understanding of human anatomy is the foundation of all such work, and that’s why NTHU has decided to make this substantial investment in VR hardware and software. At present, only a few medical departments in Taiwan have such equipment, and NTHU is the only university without a college of Medicine using VR to teach anatomy.
 
Prof. Chen also pointed out that due to the relative scarcity of cadavers for dissection, courses in human physiology usually teach anatomy by using books, simple models, and films, none of which are very realistic, especially in terms of three-dimensional space. With the advent of VR, however, anatomy education has been greatly improved.
 
Shyu Yueh-ming, a senior in the College of Life Science, is very interested in human anatomy. Last year, the Department of Medical Science and the National Defense Medical Center jointly dissected several cadavers, but even though this approach provides the most accurate view, it suffers from various limitations, such as the instability of a dissected brain and the small size and high fragility of the eyeball.
 
“I’m now studying the eye, the sclera, followed by the cornea, choroid, and the lens,” says Shyu while wearing the VR headset and operating the joystick to reveal each element in turn. It’s also possible to rotate the view to see the back of the eyeball, and to zoom in to see fine details, neither of which could be done when dissecting a real cadaver.
 
Sun Zhongyu, a junior in the College of Life Science, said that whereas anatomy textbooks have separate chapters on bones, muscles, and the nervous system, the VR dissection system integrates the various organ systems into a unified whole, making it easier to see the relative positions of the organs, and to understand how a drug passes into blood vessels and through the blood-brain barrier and into the nervous system.
 
Lin Hsin-yu, also a junior in the Department, said that as soon as the VR human anatomy system was up and running there was a scramble to give it a try, and that whereas learning anatomy was once a tedious matter of rote memorization, now it’s more like playing a video game, adding that the organs and tissues appear highly realistic, and that a few reviews are enough to commit an organ to memory.
 
The course “Human Anatomy: A Virtual Reality Approach” is being taught by Prof. Lee Jia-Lin of the Department of Medical Science. He said that in addition to asking students to use the VR system to find a designated organ within a certain period of time, he also poses various application questions, such as “If a bullet enters the upper left abdomen, which organs are likely to be injured?”
 
One of the main limitations of using VR to study anatomy is that it doesn’t provide students with a realistic tactile sense, the kind that presently only comes from actually cutting into a muscle or a liver. However, Chen says that she is investigating the possibility of working with other NTHU faculty on developing a VR anatomy system which provides a realistic tactile sense, as well as medical equipment combining VR and physiological testing to help students overcome their fear of human anatomy.
 
 

Students of the Department of Medical Science using a VR system to study human anatomy.

Students of the Department of Medical Science using a VR system to study human anatomy.


Director Chen Linyi (pointing to screen) of the Department of Medical Science showing students how to use the VR anatomy system.

Director Chen Linyi (pointing to screen) of the Department of Medical Science showing students how to use the VR anatomy system.

Director Chen Linyi (right) and Associate Professor Lee Jia-Lin of the Department of Medical Science.

Director Chen Linyi (right) and Associate Professor Lee Jia-Lin of the Department of Medical Science.


Anatomy students wear a VR headset and use the joystick to view the details of the entire human body from various angles.

Anatomy students wear a VR headset and use the joystick to view the details of the entire human body from various angles.


The VR anatomy system provides detailed views of the entire human body from various angles.

The VR anatomy system provides detailed views of the entire human body from various angles.

No. of visitors