Some of earliest and best anatomical drawings come from Leonardo da Vinci. The renaissance polymath would sit in on human and animal autopsies (he would sometimes cut the bodies himself) and record his observations in detailed drawings fringed with copious notes. He also made realistic body part models by injecting molten wax inside the cranium and the aortic valve and studied their shape and function. His work, however, progressed in fits and starts. Leonardo was hamstrung by the lack of cadavers (often the bodies of criminals) and a ban on human dissections issued by the Pope. His drawings remained out of sight for 400 years after his death in 1519, despite their revolutionary nature.
Body Check: The BodyMaps app allows users see inside and learn about the body. Doctors can use it to explain medical procedures.
There is no need to worry about Papal wrath or corpse supply in the digital era. Anybody, from medical students and professionals to enthusiasts and artists, can view the inside of the human body in sharp detail with a new app called BodyMaps and launched today by GE and Healthline Networks. The app, which was specifically developed for the iPad’s Retina display, features 3D, high-resolution images of more than 1,000 body parts, tissues, bones and organs, all captured in a searchable index. Just like Leonardo’s multi-view models, users can rotate more than 30 body parts for a better look. They can also toggle between the male and female body.
BodyMaps also contains 200 videos covering various medical conditions, procedures, and treatments, as well as a mark-up tool. Doctors and nurses can draw directly on the images and highlight information for patients. The app is social media ready and users can share their mark-ups and notes through email and Facebook.
“For patients, the [visual] resources were very scarce all through the medical world,” says Gloria Horns, a nurse educator and well-known patient advocate at University of California, San Francisco. “You were creating your own, reinventing the wheel every time, and working with diagrams, charts, and flat images.”
Horns has cared for many organ transplant patients during her long career. She says that the new app “is really going to be a terrific tool for the nurses that are teaching these patients through the whole course of the illness.”
Says Horns: “They are really going to get it. It’s hard to describe how this will help us. It’s pretty phenomenal.”