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Organization of the Human Body

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Unit 1: Organization of the Human Body Plan

Lesson 1- Learning Objectives

  1. 1.  Contrast the sciences of anatomy and physiology.
  2. 2. Apply commonly used planes to divide the body (sagittal, midsagittal, transverse [horizontal], frontal [coronal])
  3. 3.   Apply directional terms used in human anatomy (posterior/anterior, medial/lateral, proximal/distal, superficial/deep, superior/inferior, cranial/caudal, peripheral/palmar/plantar) 


How is the human body similar to a well-tuned machine?

Many people have compared the human body to a machine. Think about some common machines, such as drills and washing machines. Each machine consists of many parts, and each part does a specific job, yet all the parts work together to perform an overall function. The human body is like a machine in all these ways. In fact, it may be the most fantastic machine on Earth.

As a preview of the human machine, the Emmy award-winning video, Inside The Living Body, at this link is highly recommended: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chqwSh4ii84&feature=related .

Anatomy : Anatomy is the scientific study of structures and the relationship of structures to each other. (FORM) Physiology:  Physiology is the scientific study of how body structures and systems function to perform life processes. (FUNCTION)

How does anatomy determine function in the body?   


Body planes refer to any slice or cut through a three-dimensional structure allowing us to visualize relationships between those parts. CT (Computed Tomography Imaging) and MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) technology use these principles.

A. Sagittal Plane (Median) - The sagittal plane is a vertical plane (lengthwise) dividing the body or an organ into right and left sections.

C. Transverse (Horizontal) - The transverse plane is a horizontal plane dividing the body or an organ into superior (upper) and inferior (lower) sections.

D. Frontal - The frontal plane is a vertical plane dividing the body or an organ into anterior (front) and posterior (back) sections.


These terms will help to standardize discussion about locations and directions of the body.  

  1. Posterior – to the back
  2. Anterior – to the front
  3. Medial – towards the middle
  4. Lateral – towards the side
  5. Proximal – closest to an attachment point
  6. Distal – away from an attachment point
  7. Superior – above, towards the head
  8. Inferior -- below, towards the feet

Directional terms are used to describe joint movements that occur in different directions and planes. The body is assumed to be in anatomical position; standing erect, the face forward, and the arms at the sides with the palms forward. A person may be lying down in anatomical position. The person is supine when lying on the back, face up or prone when lying face down on the abdomen.  Provided is a video clip from YouTube called Joine Movement Anatomy Project  that does a great job of showing the joint movements-







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