Define anatomy and physiology, and name several subspecialties of these sciences.
Two branches of science—anatomy and physiology—provide the foundation for understanding the body’s parts and functions.
Anatomy (a-NAT-o¯-me¯; ana- up; -tomy process of cutting) is the science of body structures and the relationships among them. It was first studied by dissection (dis-SEK-shun; dis- apart; -section act of cutting), the careful cutting apart of body structures to study their relationships. Today, a variety of imaging techniques (see Table 1.3 on page 21) also contribute to the advancement of anatomical knowledge. Whereas anatomy deals with structures of the body, physiology (fiz-e¯-OL-o¯-je¯; physio- nature; -logy study of) is the science of body functions—how the body parts work. Table 1.1 describes several subspecialties of anatomy and physiology.
Because structure and function are so closely related, you will learn about the human body by studying its anatomy and physiology together. The structure of a part of the body allows performance of certain functions. For example, the bones of the skull join tightly to form a rigid case that protects the brain. The bones of the fingers are more loosely joined to allow a variety of movements. The walls of the air sacs in the lungs are very thin, permitting rapid movement of inhaled oxygen into the blood.
The lining of the urinary bladder is much thicker to prevent the escape of urine into the pelvic cavity, yet its construction allows for considerable stretching as the urinary bladder fills with urine.
C H EC K P O I N T
1. What body function might a respiratory therapist strive to improve? What structures are involved?
2. Give your own example of how the structure of a part of the body is related to its function.
Categories: Anatomy and Physiology