“A tree lives by its roots.

Change the roots

and you change the tree.

Change the tree and you change the forest.”

 

First-year doctor of physical therapy students used art to describe what human cadavers meant to them for their annual cadaver memorial.

The memorial service was held Friday, April 29, 2016 after the students’ final practicum, to show respect and honor the human cadaver bodies donated for educational purposes.

DPT Class of 2018 students used art to describe what human cadavers mean to them for their annual cadaver memorial. (Jeff Malet, WesternU)

DPT Class of 2018 students used art to describe what human cadavers mean to them for their annual cadaver memorial. (Jeff Malet, WesternU)

Three students created the class project: Erin Konkle and Amber Dodd thought of using the symbolism of knowledge and a tree, and Ria Sugijanto and her boyfriend did the artwork.

Each root of the tree has a cadaver’s name associated with it. The entire class of 54 students’ names appeared among the leaves.

“We felt our cadavers changed us as professionals in helping us grow and learn about the human body, and they also changed us as people, helping us realize the frailty of life,” Dodd said. “You think of all the breaths they took, or the beats of their hearts, or the places they went, and that changed us. They were the base of what we learned and what we will learn in the future.”

A handwritten message thanking the cadavers for helping the students “change the forest” appeared along the bottom of the poster board.

Dee Schilling, PT, PhD, Chair of the Department of Physical Therapy Education for the College of Allied Health Professions, said experience with cadavers extends beyond learning anatomical structures.

“The cadavers are students’ first patients. Bonds are created, and humanism is experienced and further developed,” she said. “The richness of this learning experience is a critical component in the journey to becoming compassionate and caring physical therapists.”

Click here for information about WesternU’s Body Donation Program.