Virtual Anatomies: How Computers Are Transforming Studies of Musculoskeletal Form and Function
The present revolution in computing power and graphics capabilities promises a transformation in how anatomists will understand and investigate musculoskeletal form and function. Modern morphometric and statistical methods allow us to quantify three-dimensional forms from diverse imaging modalities to compare them and assess variation and associations. These methods have wide application from comparative anatomy to medicine.
Beyond morphometry, methods from engineering such as finite elements analysis and multibody dynamics allow anatomists to directly relate form to function. For anatomists this should represent a transformation of possibilities for research, yet decades on from the key advances, progress is slow and the literature remains relatively small. This presentation will review the state of the Virtual Anatomical arts in relation to studies of the musculoskeletal system and consider barriers to application and uptake that might be profitably addressed in future.
After qualifying in Medicine, Professor Paul O'Higgins completed a PhD and lectured in Anatomy at the University of Leeds, and then at the University of Western Australia. From 1994 he was Reader, then Professor of Anatomy, at University College, London. His research uses computational approaches to understand the evolution, form and function of the skeletal system.
He has published 3 edited volumes, 140 full length articles and co-authored and co-supervised the development of morphometric and finite elements software packages that are used widely in comparative and medical anatomical studies. Clinical experience includes several years in Accident and Emergency Medicine in both Leeds and Western Australia. Since 2003, he has been Foundation Professor of Anatomy and Head of the Centre for Anatomical and Human Sciences at The Hull York Medical School, England.