Monday, 23 April 2012

IMFW: Life Imitates Art

So Blogger has changed its layout and everything, which is deeply confusing to a simple soul like me. If I manage to do anything wildly stupid like posting this next April or forgetting to use a title or something, please forgive me. I am easily baffled.

Anyway: back to IMFW! Today's Interesting Medical Fact of the Week is kind of related to two of my previous interesting medical posts, which focused on face transplants. There's an interesting article on the BBC News website about the fact that the University of Lincoln is offering an art course to plastic surgeons and medical students. They work at life drawing, self portraiture and clay modelling, with a focus on the real-life application for these skills: applying them in their surgical work.

It sounds a little bizarre at first, but at second glance it does make sense. The course aims to enhance students' observational skills and their perceptions of their work, emphasizing that they should look at reconstruction from a patient's point of view as well as their own.

Despite its rather trite acronym, the name of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS...) emphasizes the importance of beauty and aesthetic in the work of plastic surgeons, something which is obviously important in purely cosmetic procedures, but equally key in reconstructive work. I know next to nothing about the training of plastic surgeons, but it would certainly be interesting to know whether surgeons who go into this specialty tend to have more of an interest in art compared to those who gravitate towards other specialisms.

A press release from the university emphasizes the historical link between art and medicine, which was far more pronounced centuries ago; it was considered that artists needed an understanding of anatomy in order to recreate the human form on canvas, while medical texts relied upon anatomical drawings produced by artists, who would often attend dissections. Vesalius's seminal work on anatomy, De humani corporis fabrica, written in 1543, incorporated anatomical illustrations from artists working in the studio of Titian. Perhaps now the link between art and medicine link is being strengthened once more.

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