VR and AR helping students ace anatomy

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are helping health and science students at La Trobe University’s Bendigo campus better understand the intricacies of human anatomy.

Recently installed in the campus’ anatomy laboratory and library, the technology is being used by students studying biomedical science, dentistry, occupational therapy, physiotherapy and speech pathology, among other disciplines.

La Trobe Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar said the University’s latest investment in new technology further demonstrates La Trobe’s commitment to building a strong rural health workforce.

“At our Bendigo campus we have students in new courses like the Bachelor of Biomedical Science (Medical), as well as dentistry and our suite of allied health programs, who all need a deep and sophisticated understanding of the human body.

“This state-of-the-art technology, combined with our newly refurbished anatomy labs, is helping students develop the knowledge and skills many will need when they start work in a rural health clinic or regional hospital after graduation,” Professor Dewar said.

Lecturer in anatomy Dr Anita Zacharias said the technology makes study of human anatomy more affordable and flexible for students, as well as enriching the learning experience.

“Our anatomy students already learn from working with skeletons, models, and human specimens.

“Adding AR and VR to the mix enables them to visualise and manipulate anatomical structures, which deepens their understanding of muscle function, and improves spatial awareness.

“It also means that students can access highly detailed 3D images, clinical cases and quizzes anywhere – in their homes, on public transport, or wherever they have access to a phone, tablet or computer.”

With AR, students can superimpose images of anatomical structures over a peer who can perform movements along with the app, to better understand muscle function.

While AR is completely transportable and available 24 hours a day, VR is used on campus with University supplied headsets.

The cost for using the AR technology is $10 per student, compared to more than $100 for a single textbook.

La Trobe has invested $2.6 million this year on building and refurbishing science laboratories at its Bendigo and Albury-Wodonga campuses – in part to accommodate students in the new Bachelor of Biomedical Science (Medical) which launched in 2019.

Fifteen new students will start in the program across the two campuses in 2020, bringing the total number enrolled to 30.

Compared to last year, first preferences through VTAC and UAC for the Bachelor of Biomedical Science (Medical) are up 56 per cent in Bendigo, and 146 per cent in Albury Wodonga.

The selection process targets students with rural or regional backgrounds who are seeking a career in the rural health workforce.

More than 77 per cent of students studying health-related disciplines at La Trobe’s regional campuses are from a rural or regional background.

The AR and VR technology has been rolled out across La Trobe’s Melbourne, Bendigo and Albury-Wodonga campuses in recent months.

Information on applying for the Bachelor of Biomedical Science (Medical) here

Media contact: Kate O’Connor – k.o’connor@latrobe.edu.au – 5444 7415 / 0436 189 629