Using a Novel Complexity-based Human Dissection Course for Complementary and Alternative Medicine Practitioners of Physical Manipulation: Utility and Effect on Clinical Practice

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Harness, Craig
Anatomy , Dissection , Complexity , Education , Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Background and Purpose: There will always be a discrepancy between theory and practice. The coevolution of the theory and practice of anatomy has become more difficult with the passage of time, and the advancement of knowledge extending into the histologic and chemical levels. Professional life continuously presents situations that are not textbook accounts with clear answers, especially in the realm of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) practitioners. The purpose of this research was to create a complexity-based course of human dissection to bridge the gap between clinical and laboratory anatomy. Method: The creation of the self-organizing dissection course involved utilizing several characteristics of complex systems to frame an environment, which was supportive and inclusive of learners, rather than the creation of a unique list of anatomical structures or dissection procedure for the participants to accomplish. A fully equipped laboratory supplemented by audiovisual aids was combined with treatment tables set up in an adjacent room, allowing participants to simultaneously manipulate willing fellow participants while performing a dissection. Results: The utility of the complexity-based dissection course was shown to enhance perceived anatomical visualization skills and clinical efficacy for CAM practitioners practicing physical manipulation. The nature of an emergent case study narrative within the course was also demonstrated, lending support for the use of this pedagogy in the anatomical education of CAM practitioners. Conclusions: Participating in the complexity-based human dissection course was a valuable endeavor for practitioners of CAM who use physical manipulation, in their daily clinical work. Previous dissection was not required nor was a great deal of clinical experience to have a positive impact on participants, making this approach flexible enough to have participants of all levels of experience, and differing philosophical backgrounds, work in an inter-professional team.
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