A Vocabulary for Anatomical Assessment

More notes and thoughts from the Tom Myers "Body Reading 101" seminar.

Conventions


As a convention, position and direction of a structure are referred to from the top and from the front. For example, a posterior tilt of the pelvis always means that the top of the pelvis is tilting towards the back of the body. If you are looking from the front, the top of the pelvis will be tilting away from you, from the back it will be tilting towards you, but the language expressing the position does not change.

For greater clarity, describe the position of one body part relative to another. For example: the pelvis is shifted right relative to the feet.

Directions


  • ANTERIOR: towards the front of the body.

  • POSTERIOR: towards the back of the body.

  • SUPERIOR: towards the head.

  • INFERIOR: towards the feet.

  • LATERAL: away from the mid-line of the body.

  • MEDIAL: towards the mid-line of the body.

  • LEFT: the client/student's left side.

  • RIGHT: the client/student's right side.

Movements


Here are 4 simple terms with which to describe the position of a body part:

1. Tilt

When one side of a structure in the body is higher then the other. The direction of tilt is given as the direction towards which the higher side of the structure is tilting. "A left tilt of the collar bones" would mean that the outer (lateral) edge of the right collarbone is higher than the outer edge of the left collarbone.

When you have two of a structure, one on each side of the body, you can have a lateral or medial tilt. For example: a medial tilt of the right foot would mean the foot is rolling in, everting or pronating.

Possible tilts: anterior tilt, posterior tilt, left side tilt, right side tilt, medial tilt, lateral tilt


2. Shift

A shift is when an entire structure is displaced relative to another structure or a particular reference line. For example: A posterior shifted ribcage is a ribcage that is set behind the plane of person's center of gravity.

When you have two of a structure, you can have a lateral or medial shift.


3. Bend

A bend is when there is a curve in the structure. A right side bend of the spine is concave on the right and convex on the left.

When you have two of a structure, "tilt" is usually used. For example: when the right shoulder is higher than the left would be a left tilt of the shoulder rather than a left bend.


4. Rotation

A rotation is when a structure is turned relative to something else. For example: the pelvis is rotated right relative to the feet. Rotations can be to the left, to the right, medial or lateral (in the case of paired structures).


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