Anatomy Basics

Anatomy Basics

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Anatomical Position and Planes, Terms of Movement, and Location

The body must first be put into a universal position known as the anatomical position in order to accurately describe anatomy. This position entails facing forwards with arms by the sides and palms facing forwards. It acts as a consistent starting point for all anatomical reference points.

An anatomical plane is a cross-section through the body, and can be made at varying angles. The three most common planes are sagittal, coronal, and transverse. The sagittal plane divides the body into left and right, the coronal plane delineates the front (anterior) and back (posterior) of the body, and the transverse plane separates the upper body from the lower body, such as the torso from the legs and hips.

Anatomical terms of movement are used to explain how the body moves with the action of certain muscles, usually at a joint where two bones meet. In the sagittal plane, movements include flexion and extension, while the coronal plane includes abduction and adduction. Other movements can include medial (internal) and lateral (external) rotation at certain joints.

A distinct lexicon is used to accurately describe the location of something on the body. It must be referenced to a point on the body to provide a means for comparison. For example, if an imaginary midline is drawn on the body, anything closer to the midline is termed medial, while anything away from the midline is termed lateral, such as the little finger being closer to the midline than the index finger. Similarly, something further to the front of the body is termed anterior, and further back is known as posterior.

For more empirical understanding of anatomy, the three anatomical planes may be further broken down. The sagittal plane can be divided into two more planes; the parasagittal plane, which is anywhere between the midline and the lateral, and the midsagittal plane, which is the exact midline of the body. The coronal plane can be divided into two sections; the upper and lower lateral halves, a similar division can also be made in the transverse plane with an upper and lower section.

The three planes of division each have their own terms of direction, which aid in the understanding of anatomy. In the sagittal plane, the body has a direction forwards (anterior) or a direction backwards (posterior). The coronal plane has the front of the body described as ventral, and the back described as dorsal. The transverse plane has the body divided into the superior- the higher section, and inferior- the lower section.

Understanding the anatomical position and planes, terms of movement, and terms of location is critical for any medical professional in order to effectively describe and diagnose anatomical issues. It is also essential for any student of anatomy or physical fitness, as knowledge of the body’s structure and movement capabilities are essential for maintaining overall health.

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