Creation of Interactive VR Application that Supports Reasoning Skills in Anatomy Education
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For our creative work thesis, we developed a VR (Virtual Reality) Program that allows a user to view and interact with muscles and nerves of a canine leg that would support students to understand the relationships between nerves and muscles. Using an industry-style pipeline, we developed anatomically accurate models of canine muscles and nerves, which we textured, rigged, and animated for use in an educational virtual reality platform. The end goal of the project is to create and measure the efficacy of a visually dynamic experience for the user, allowing them to generally explore canine limb anatomy, and to specifically visualize deficits in muscle movement, produced by user interaction with the canine nervous system. This tool explores the possibilities of Virtual Reality and seek to improve upon existing methods of higher-level anatomy education. Traditionally, higher level anatomy education is taught through the use of cadaver dissections, two-dimensional anatomical diagrams and didactic lectures. However, these traditional methods of teaching anatomy have many limitations and are not enough to build a visual-spatial understanding of anatomical structures. Virtual reality is a strong tool that allows students to directly manipulate anatomical models and observe movements in a three-dimensional space. While the literature has been filled with VR applications that aim to fill this need, many existing tools offer only a static model for the user to explore by rotation, adding and subtracting layers, and viewing labels to learn about the anatomical structure. We seek to increase the level of dynamic interaction that the user has, by allowing the user’s touch of the models to change the animation and movement of the three-dimensional models in their environment. Our outcome is a VR learning tool that has potential for further exploration in higher level anatomy education. Our creative work employs the methodologies of “art-based research”. Art based research can be defined as the systematic use of the artistic process, the actual making of artistic expressions as a primary way of understanding. The project was created iteratively while working with content experts, specifically anatomy experts from Dept. of Veterinary Sciences at Texas A&M University. Implementing anatomy education using virtual reality and developing a universal pipeline for asset creation allows us the freedom to dynamically build on our application. This means that our tool can accommodate for the addition of new muscle and nerves. By continuing to develop our virtual reality application in future works, we can expand the breadth of knowledge a user can gain from interacting with our application.
Chang-Gonzalez, Karla Ianina; Ackley, Amber (2019). Creation of Interactive VR Application that Supports Reasoning Skills in Anatomy Education. Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. Available electronically from