Top 21 Free Musculoskeletal Anatomy Resources

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Top 21 Free Musculoskeletal Anatomy Resources

Knowledge of musculoskeletal anatomy is a fundamental aspect of human biology courses and essential for many health professionals, including physical therapy/physiotherapy, occupational therapy, nursing, and medicine. I know from personal experience that studying anatomy takes a great deal of time and effort, and that you never really finish learning. To make learning musculoskeletal anatomy as easy as possible, I have included a list of my top 21 free musculoskeletal anatomy resources. I hope that you find them as helpful as I have.

Multi-Resource Websites

  • Anatomy Zone An absolutely fantastic multi-resource website which provides an impressive amount of video tutorials on musculoskeletal and nervous anatomy. A database of muscle attachments, function and innervation, and a free 3D model, all of which makes this website one of the best free anatomy resources on the net.

  • Innerbody This site is an easy to navigate resource which provides a visual representation of a chosen anatomical structure as well as a brief description of it. Although not comprehensive, it is easy to navigate and may prove a useful reference tool.

  • Get Body Smart Possibly my favourite free anatomy resource on this list! It is extremely simple to use but contains a whole host of very useful features: a layering tool, videos demonstrating muscle action, supporting images such as nervous distribution and succinct and organised supporting text. A very useful tool.

3D Models

  • Zygote Body A very impressive looking 3D model which allows you to layer between bone, muscle and nervous system etc. The level of detail is very good for a 3D model, and still shows sufficient detail when zoomed in.

  • Healthline Body Maps A free 3D model which allows you to view the body at various levels. The level of detail is not comprehensive and information about body parts could be formatted to better aid learning; however, it is a great place to start, especially for visual learners.

  • Anatronica Interactive Anatomy 3D This 3D model is easy to manipulate and view structures from different angles; it is very useful for people looking to visualise a body part. It doesn't, however, provide descriptive text with the visuals to enhance your learning of the structures, and would best be used along with a traditional text resource.

  • WinkingSkull Although some functions and content are reserved for paid users, there is still some high quality, useful free content. Several illustrations are available to view which, although not providing the interactivity of 3D models, does contain more detail.

  • Chiasm Body Another animated learning resource. This programme is thin on content with no supporting text; however, the ability to layer muscles and easily select those of interest makes this a very user friendly tool.

Online Lecture Series

  • University of California, Berkeley lecture series This series includes a lot of additional content not directly related to musculoskeletal anatomy although it does provides a good introduction to the study of anatomy and the human body. It is also great if you are an auditory learner.

  • Professor Fink's Anatomy Lecture Series A series of lectures on human anatomy, this resource will require you to pick and choose the relevant lectures to your own stage of learning. With over 57 lectures this is a great resource for auditory learners.

Downloadable Apps

  • Essential Skeleton 4 This free app is unfortunately only available on Apple operating systems. The fully 3D and intricately detailed images, along with a host of intuitive functions, makes this a very user friendly tool.

  • Anatomy Muscles Available only to Android devices, this free app provides you control to zoom in and out of detailed images and alter your point of view to see a structure from different angles. Also provides succinct information regarding muscle attachment and function.

Anatomy Quizzes

  • Downstate Quiz This interactive quiz allows you to choose what you would like to be tested on and assesses your ability to visually identify anatomical structures.

  • Free-Antomy-Quiz An anatomy quiz which allows you to test yourself on bony anatomy, the locations of muscles, their actions and their attachments.

Human Dissection *Warning these links contain content which some may find distressing

  • Learnerstv Here is a website providing a series of videos on human dissection. Although only a few are directly related to musculoskeletal anatomy, it is still a high quality resource.

  • Lawrence Galtman Dissection A collection of human dissection videos with commentary. A comprehensive collection of videos is provided, however, not all deal solely with musculoskeletal anatomy.

Still Image and Text Resources

  • Wikipedia Most question the validity of Wikipedia as a serious resource for academia, and rightly so, but when going through the process of rote learning, I think Wikipedia can be a very useful resource. This series of tables present every major muscle and more, into a very useful resource which will allow you to quickly check the attachments, action and nervous innervation of any muscle.

  • E-Skeletons This website provides detailed illustrations of the human skeleton allowing you to view individual bones from various angles. This useful function allows you to see the articulating surface of bones, and aspects otherwise obscured by articulating bones.

  • Bassett Collection of Stereoscopic Images This collection of anatomical images provides a learning experience which illustrations cannot. It is useful to see the genuine article, and a list of key landmarks to accompany the images makes this a very effective resource.

  • Gray's Anatomy The complete 1918 edition of Gray's anatomy. Beautifully illustrated and eloquently described, this is a rich and comprehensive resource that is invaluable to anatomy students.

  • Instant anatomy A collection of images and descriptions. Not as easily navigable as some other resources, but there are some gems, such as bony anatomy illustrations which demonstrate the position of all muscular attachments. This can really help you get to grips with the action of a muscle and the direction of pull of the fibres.

Sean Brindley

Health in Motion Physiotherapy Sheffield

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