Cadaver use hindered by religious factors and other obstacles

Donated bodies in high demand

Acquiring human bodies for medical research has always been a difficult task. In the past, medical researchers had to resort to digging up bodies from the grave. Today, such drastic measures are not necessary, however, for many reasons cadavers are not the most practical tool for studying anatomy anymore.

One of these reasons is associated with religious customs, which can often prohibit people from touching a dead body, let alone delving into its chest or organs. An example of some of these customs can be seen with the Navajo and Muslims.

The Navajo, for example, believe that when a person dies, the “good” part of the person leaves with the spirit, while the “evil” part stays with the physical body. Touching the body after death could have harmful consequences, like the person’s spirit returning to the world of the living.

Muslims do not encourage the use of cadavers for dissection because they believe that dissecting desecrates the body. After someone dies, it is also important to bury the body as soon as possible; this does not leave time to study the corpse.

Eye ModelOther reasons preventing countries from using cadavers can be the cost. Bodies themselves do not need to be paid for because, by law, bodies cannot be sold, but the price for processing the body and preparing it for transportation can often run schools between $1,000 and $2,500 per body. The number of cadavers required can quickly add up to unreachable amounts, especially in poorer countries.

Another aspect to cadavers that people don’t often think about is their other uses. Not all donated bodies are used by medical students. Aside from the popular use of cadavers in medical student training and organ donation, some bodies are plastinated for exhibits, used to train police dogs to find disaster victims and a few are even placed in car crash tests to measure safety. The variety of cadaver use creates a high demand for donated bodies, but most people prefer to be buried or cremated after death instead of used for science.

This cadaver problem is one of the factors that pushes Cyber Science 3D to produce its anatomy Learning Packages. Virtual dissection solves many problems that cadaver use poses, for instance, people with customs restricting cadaver contact can easily interact with the programs to learn vital anatomy knowledge. Another advantage of virtual anatomy is that the models can be picked apart again and again, while cadavers can only be used once. By moving medical training into the virtual world, students will be able to gain critical knowledge of anatomy without waiting for a cadaver to become available. This will increase students’ abilities to study the materials they need to learn. Stress related to work load is a major factor in student dropout rates, but by using an anatomy learning package, that stress can potentially be reduced by making information easier to absorb, which will ultimately help students complete their training.