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Gift of Body

A Participant's Experience

When you first enter the building, you walk past the front desk and into a very large waiting room, where three of the four walls are lined with couches and chairs. Once settled in the chairs, Chris Hagey then welcomes you, and then after a few minutes of chatting and getting to know a little bit about each other, he verbally introduces you to the Residents of Somatic Explorations. 

For my Upper Extremity Pro-section, there are three Residents. I won't go into detail about who they are, so that you can learn about them when you go and visit, but each of them have been given a name, and we learn about how they had passed away, and how old they are. With a little more background information about where they were donated from, and how each of the Residents actually donated their bodies for learning, we were invited into the lab.

hand drawn skeleton

There is a slight smell of the embalming fluids in the air when you enter the lab, and you take in the circle of chairs, the white lab coats, and then the three mysterious containers. After putting on a lab coat, you take a seat in one of the chairs, and Chris talks a little bit more about the Residents that you are about to meet. You put on some gloves, and you are introduced to the first Resident. 

Each of them is kept under a sheet and in 6 inches of embalming fluids to keep them moist. The first Resident is lifted out of the fluids, and you can hear the rushing sounds it makes as the liquids drain into the tank below. You are introduced to each one with their faces being revealed first. Resident #1 is supine and is undraped to just below the ribs. Here we are shown the right side of the anterior chest (Pectoralis Major, Pectoralis Minor, Superficial Fascia, Adipose tissue, and skin), the right arm (the skin and superficial fascia had been cut so that they can be pulled back to expose the tissues underneath), and forearm (same like the arm). You are also given the chance to palpate some superficial fascia and adipose tissue that had been removed from one of the Residen's ilium. Palpation is optional; and if you need to leave the Lab for a breather, take all the time you need!

Resdent #2 and #3 are prone. Resident #2's posterior aspect reveals Trapezius, Rhomboids, Levator Scapula, Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, Teres Major and Minor.. and other posterior back and shoulder muscles. I won't go into great detail... it's an experience you have to have for yourself!

#3's left upper extremity is completely removed from the thorax, and its right distal humerus has been cut so you can see the forearm on its own. You are left with the Left upper extremity, and right forearm, and are told to differentiate the forearm muscles anterior and posteriorly. 

After you had some time with Resident #3, you are free to take a look at all three Residents at the same time. 

There is loads of time to ask questions, and Chris supplies lots of interesting facts! But I found that the best thing about this Pro-Section was that you get such a different way to view the muscles and how they interact with everything around them! Anomalies are very common, and the different tissues are indistinguishable. Things that you weren't 100% sure about, because the pictures in textbooks are two dimensional, were cleared up, and the way that muscles actually attach gives you a new perspective as an RMT to how you can treat them, and what is actually palpable and movable. 

With this being my first experience up close to seeing "real" musculature, I was (and still am!) floored with the size (the surface area and thickness) of the muscles.

If you have a chance to go to Somatic Explorations, I highly recommend it! I didn't give great descriptions to what I saw, one because everyone has a different perspective to what they see, and because some things are just indescribable! 

I'm excited to go to my next Pro-Section or even a full 6-day Dissection! I hope you can get the chance to do this too! Remember! Chris only takes 5 people per day and spots later on in the summer are going fast!

Jessica Yee, RMT