First and foremost, I have the greatest respect and appreciation for the Male and Female Donors that were able to use their bodies for one last great task on this earth. Even after these two bodies no longer contained life, they were able to help teach a group of about twenty-four students so that we may better help others. Second, the experience would not have had such high quality if it weren’t for the instructors. Judy Russell, R.P.T and Peter Coppola, PT regularly take time away from their families and busy practices to provide the highest quality of instruction for the Barral Institute. Last but not least, thanks to the owner and staff at Vista Lab in Baltimore, Maryland for providing the donors and an amazing workspace. Vista Lab is a Cadaveric Bioskills Laboratory providing an open and clean work environment with state of the art equipment. More info about the facility can be found at http://vistalabbaltimore.com/index.html .
I was told that this was a rare and unique experience in regards to the Visceral Manipulation Dissection course. It was more special than usual because we had the combination of two donors, one male one female, which had not been frozen or preserved in any way, and had only deceased two days prior to the start of the class. This scenario provided conditions that allowed us to see how the various tissues and structures vary from person to person according to their genetic makeup and life experience. We were able to experience this in tissue that was as close to living tissue as possible due to the mentioned unique state of the donors. These two human beings provided a real hands- on Anatomy textbook that truly illustrates the connectivity of everything in the body that no amount of words or pictures on paper could ever provide. We were able to explore the Viscera, Craniosacral System, Vasculature, Peripheral Nerves, Joints, Muscles, and the associated Fascia of all of these structures. Being able to see everything bundled together gave me a greater appreciation for why I focus on treating the whole person and not just one or two systems.
One thing I have learned about the Barral and Upledger Institutes is that they have no shortage of absolutely brilliant and skilled instructors. The experience from this class has, as usual, only given more proof to that fact. Judy and Peter demonstrated not just the ability to precisely dissect the tissue as if it were an art, but also posses the knowledge to explain the deep connections, and forms of malfunction that take place in the systems of the body and how one can affect another. They were then able to take it a step further and discuss why we perform certain techniques while allowing us to feel it on the body of the donor. An example would be how a person can have chronic knee pain and dysfunction that comes from a restricted pathway of a particular long nerve in the inner leg whose primary point of restriction could be in the groin area. Many examples were given but the purpose of this blog is to illustrate the overall experience. Another great quality they showed was an extreme amount of patience. Dividing a large group of students, eager to learn and get there hands on just two bodies, is no easy task. Judy and Peter were able to maintain these crowds and not even hurt anyone as they were usually holding very sharp utensils. I almost forgot to include that they also had two Teaching Assistants. I cannot remember their names but I will say they were also highly skilled people willing to help. These instructors give more than just knowledge of the human body. They are living examples of what qualities people within the healthcare field need to have. Most importantly, they are glowing with compassion, the desire to help, and love for what they do.
Vista Lab was not just some place looking to make money and provide cadavers. These guys were involved in the class every minute and they didn't have to be. They were usually providing necessary tools or helping with certain parts of the dissection without being asked. Bill Sutton, the Director, obviously has a great passion for what he does. He made sure the students were comfortable and had everything we needed. Bill’s personality is one were you would like to hang out with him both in and outside of the work environment. His two assistants have medical backgrounds and are highly skilled, friendly people. The workspace at Vista lab is what you would expect in a facility like this. Its very sterile yet has a lot of natural lighting. It also has a nice roof top area where you can eat or just getaway for a breath of fresh air. I have personally never been to another lab that works with cadavers but it’s very hard to imagine another that has such a high quality facility and staff.
I could easily write a small book about my experience at the Visceral Manipulation Dissection course. I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about these classes so I went in with high expectations. I’m proud to say this course exceeded those expectations exponentially. I was left with a greater appreciation for life, a greater ability to visualize the connectivity of everything, and an enhancement of my ever-growing appreciation for the learning provided by the Barral and Upledger Institutes. This was my first dissection course but it will not be my last.
Tyler M. Holt, LMT
"My passion is to educate people within a treatment setting, not just in a classroom."