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Physics of Medicine and the Human Body

Physics has transformed modern medicine through the development of diagnostic and therapeutic techniques. A deeper appreciation of the human body is achieved with an understanding of physics principles. In this Immersion, participants will learn about various types of apparatus for teaching the physics of medicine and the human body. The material targets students who have had 1-2 semesters of introductory physics and is algebra-based.

It is my belief that participants interested in establishing physics of medicine courses at their own institutions would benefit from a knowledge of what is already out there. On the first day of the Immersion, participants will be provided with an overview of all teaching apparatus that have been used at Loyola in the physics of medicine courses. These include commercial products, apparatus developed by Nancy Donaldson (Rockhurst University) and myself, and apparatus developed at other institutions. Specific topics include fiber optics, MRI, PET, CT, gamma camera imaging, ultrasound imaging, aerobic metabolism, pressure in the lungs and alveoli, biomechanics of the arm, foot, and heart, and optics of the eye. A survey will be given to determine which topics are of greatest interest to the participants.

To address the question of “what do I give to the students,” participants will work in detail with the fiber optics module, which we developed, to understand the hands-on activities and inquiry-based curriculum. An instructors’ guide will be provided, from which a student guide can be easily generated. If participants are interested, I can also give an overview of fiber optics material suitable for advanced students.

Results of the survey will be used to determine what will be covered in the remainder of the workshop. Because intermediate-level classes can be larger, student and instructor guides have been developed for most of the topics in order to run the classes smoothly. I have flexibility in enabling participants to choose what they want to learn. Alternatively, participants can work on materials that we developed, namely apparatus and curriculum for lungs and alveoli and the gamma camera.

Preparation: If you are interested in attending this Immersion, I would appreciate hearing from you in advance about the topics you are particularly interested in. A tentative schedule is described above, but I have the flexibility to adjust it according to feedback from participants.

Equipment and supplies: All items for the Immersion are available at Loyola. Internet access will be available.

Safety considerations: None.

The cost of each setup ranges from $100 - $1000. In a number of cases, the equipment is generally useful for a variety of labs. I have assumed that basic oscilloscopes and power supplies are already available.