Using Realtime Ultrasound Imaging to Enhance Students' Learning of Anatomical Knowledge in Physical Therapy Education Academic Article uri icon


  • In the Doctor of Physical Therapy program, students complete an anatomy course where they are expected to learn proper identification of anatomical structures and develop didactic manual skills to properly palpate those structures. For many students, the connection between what they view in the cadaveric laboratory and surface anatomy can be challenging. The purpose of this study was to use realtime ultrasound imaging (RTUI) technology to enable students to visualize realtime anatomy for the accuracy of their palpation skills. Subjects consisted of two consecutive years of students in the first semester of a Doctorate of Physical Therapy program taking gross anatomy (n=91; n= 102). The fifteenweek gross anatomy course consisted of a lecture, prosected cadaver and a separate surface anatomy laboratories. Students were allocated into a control or experimental group based on laboratory sections. The standard surface anatomy laboratory education (control) included visual demonstration of palpation technique for the collateral ligaments of the knee and ankle, followed by verbal feedback from instructors while students were practicing. The experimental group also received visual feedback utilizing a GE Healthcare LOQIQS7 Ultrasound Imaging Machine during identification of knee ligaments, but not during the identification of ankle ligaments. Four weeks following the intervention, all students' palpation performances of the knee and ankle ligaments were assessed for time and accuracy. In addition, students completed a sixquestion survey assessing their perceived confidence in their palpation skills. Comparison of traditional and technology enhanced learning both within subject (knee v. ankle ligaments) and between subjects (control v. experimental) was analyzed for effectiveness on student's skill acquisition and confidence. The use of RTUI during laboratory teaching improved students' learning and accuracy in palpation of knee ligaments. The implementation of an emerging technology (RTUI) with traditional laboratory techniques may assist with student's transference of anatomical knowledge in cadaveric specimens to surface anatomy, which may have a longterm impact on clinical skills.Support or Funding InformationThe development of this technology assisted instructional program is funded by Northeastern University Provost Instructional Development Grant.This abstract is from the Experimental Biology 2018 Meeting. There is no full text article associated with this abstract published in The FASEB Journal.

published proceedings

  • The FASEB Journal

author list (cited authors)

  • Day, L., Markowski, A., & Watkins, M.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Day, Leslie||Markowski, Alycia||Watkins, Maureen

publication date

  • April 2018