Surface and Living Anatomy: An Illustrated Guide for the Therapist
Gordon Joslin with Raylene Collyer Mosby, 2002 Paperback and CD, 165 pages, £19.99
(Reviewed by Di Eckersley, EJOM Vol. 4 No. 3)
Gordon Joslin has written this text and accompanying CD as a practical guide to 226 anatomical features using a set of 'behavioural objectives', with the specific aim of helping students to demonstrate practical competence for Diploma and undergraduate degree courses in supplementary and complementary medical therapies. He has been deeply immersed in the teaching of anatomy to a wide range of such students for the past thirty six years and he is unquestionably expert in his subject area as well as showing a great love for his subject. Indeed almost a working lifetime is invested in this book and he is in an excellent position to judge the need for a text such as this.
It is certainly true that some students coming to study anatomy on their courses are doing so for the first time and therefore experience varying levels of ease and difficulty during the process of the course. It is also true that some students with past experience, knowledge and qualifications in biological sciences encounter problems with the often new and specific practical learning which is experienced on a complementary medicine course. It is my experience that many members of the former group often achieve results as good as, if not sometimes better than, members of the latter group on following the same practical anatomy course. This new publication may hope to appeal to the entire cross section of students from all educational backgrounds and experiences following a wide variety of complementary medical courses. It has wide competition as more and more new or updated anatomy textbooks, a few incorporating CDs, have recently appeared on the bookshelves. So what special qualities might make Surface and Living Anatomy more beneficial for students to use rather than another, or might it be as well used as another text(s) to reinforce and check learning, bearing in mind students often have limited finances?
Do all therapists in a range of disciplines need the same level and detail of text? Is what is needed in the education and training of an acupuncturist the same as what is needed for an osteopath or a reflexologist or a physiotherapist or whatever? What constitutes levels of safety and competence in any particular discipline? I do not think that one size fits all students or all courses and disciplines so this publication will appeal to some more than others. And it will appeal to some more than others also because of the style in which it is presented, the main text being made up of lists of, for the most part, clearly written instructions, almost of military precision. Some will love this format. Students for whom lists of instructions do not resonate may have a problem, even with the aid of accompanying photos and the CD which improves the visual content.
The guide is presented logically, but does not have a welcoming introduction which serves to warm up the user, leading as it does from the preface and acknowledgements to Section 1. There is no index, which it needs because here previous knowledge is presumed in order to find the relevant section. For example, if the reader does not know or is uncertain where the pectineus muscle is in the body, s/he would not know in which section to look (Muscles of the Lower Limb 127) without an index. The graphic of the yellow hand catches the eye in the photos, but is not explained in the text, so one has to discern the feature indicated, particularly if there is more than one hand. Perhaps some accompanying labelling of the photos would help so that it is overtly related to the title and instructions? The hand is somewhat imprecise and might better be an arrow. The use of photographs is always of help to students and many of them are clear and helpful. This is a particular benefit of the CD facility, where photos can be enlarged and zoomed in on to better understand a feature, location or whatever. Some of the text photos are rather small and unclear, more so some of the black and white ones. For example, the photo to show the ulnar styloid process (13) is unclear and the accompanying instructions do not make things any clearer for such an obvious landmark on the arm, because the author has used terms ‘inferior’ and ‘above’ which make for ambiguity. The terms proximal and distal might be better used, together with an additional photo of the bones, as has been often used to good effect on other features (e.g. 27). The accompanying diagrams seem to need clarifying, if we use the example of pectineus again, an arrow or more specific label could help the student to find pectineus in this diagram.
An accompanying CD is a plus these days and this one is easy to navigate. Its use improves the images and the potential to learn from the material. Additional photographic material is also contained on the disc. The 226 learning objectives are contained on the disc as headings to each of the anatomical features, but are not listed in the book, where they appear throughout the instructions only if already located earlier for another anatomical feature. Switching between the use of the CD and text together depends on the organisational abilities of each student. A spellcheck might be useful on the CD for anatomical words as occasional discrepancies appear.
Notwithstanding these comments I would recommend this publication to acupuncture students and training institutions as a very useful resource for reference, not least because the instructions in general are clear, specific and detailed. It should take its rightful place on the bookshelves alongside some other excellent texts in anatomy and the CD facility certainly gives it an advantage over some. It is priced in the middle of a market which starts at about £8.99 rising upwards of £30.00.
Di Eckersley Di Eckersley is an acupuncturist practising in Reading and Newbury in the UK. Her background is in education and teaching and, until recently, she taught anatomy at the College of Integrated Chinese Medicine in Reading. Di serves on the British Acupuncture Council's Education Policy and Admissions Committees and the Accreditation Committee of the British Acupuncture Accreditation Board.