Background: A robust understanding of the human anatomy is essential for Physical Therapists. Cross-sectional anatomy is also important since treatment often involves understanding medical images such as MRI. Unfortunately interpreting 3-D relations from 2-D images is one of the most difficult skills to learn and teach.
Methods: We are developing and documenting a process allowing students to independently create a virtual 3-D model of a structure a series of MRI slices. The student uses commonly available software to outline a structure of interest in a series of MRI slices. These outlines are then lofted together using 3-D CAD software to produce a virtual model of the structure. The model can be rotated and viewed thus providing a powerful connected visualization of the MRI slices and the structure. To gain a tactile sense these models can be 3-D printed at low cost. We will recruit 6-8 5th Year Physical therapy student volunteers directions to create a 3-D model.
Analysis: To assess the project outcomes and reliability we will quantitatively evaluate the student’s ability to reproduce the same models and completion time. Qualitative data will evaluate Process Assessment by identifying areas for instructional improvement and overall satisfaction.
Conclusion: This process has been proven valuable for a teaching tool for normal complex neuroanatomical structures such as the ventricular system and for pathologies such as structural implication of labral tears of the hip and shoulder pathology. Further research will assess the impact on student learning.