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SynDavers Teach Anatomy At UWF

Bob Barrett

Teaching anatomy with the use of cadavers is not limited to medical schools.  But setting up and maintaining a cadaver lab is expensive. Very expensive. Now, students at the University Of West Florida College Of Health have the opportunity to gain in-depth, hands on understanding of the human body by using synthetic cadavers. They’re called Syn-Davers. 

Once you walk in to the new UWF SynDaver lab you see three realistic looking bodies, lying out on separate examination tables. There is no skin on the bodies, so you are looking at muscle and organs.  Dr. Eric Greska, an assistant professor of Exercise Science at the UWF talked about the new anatomy lab. "They've got very realistic tissue feel, the majority of the muscles are aligned where the origin and insertion should be, as well as there are nerves running through the body. So it's a pretty close replication to the human body itself."

Credit Bob Barrett / WUWF News
UWF currently has three SynDavers.

Dr. Greska says the SynDavers are used to teach functional anatomy courses as well as some nursing classes. He will also use them periodically in biomechanics, athletic training, exercise science and physical therapy courses. "It gives students that actual 'hands-on' sensation. Previously we'd give them computer programs (where) you could actually go in and look at the human body, but that's a 2-D medium. This is now that 3-D medium." He says this gives students the feel of muscle location and texture. They can also explore around the body's internal organs and translate that information into the real world while they are working with real patients.

The SynDaver is the brainchild of Dr. Christopher Sakezles, who actually appeared on the reality show Shark Tank last year looking for an investor. That deal fell through, but the company seems to be doing just fine. 

Bob Barrett has been a radio broadcaster since the mid 1970s and has worked at stations from northern New York to south Florida and, oddly, has been able to make a living that way. He began work in public radio in 2001. Over the years he has produced nationally syndicated programs such as The Environment Show and The Health Show for Northeast Public Radio's National Productions.