Remember this phrase: “Some Lovers Try Positions That They Can’t Handle.” You’ll know that stands for the wrist bones in a few minutes…
As an anatomy and physiology student, you need to learn a lot of information about the human body fast. One of the most daunting portions of A&P is diagram and learn all 206 bones in the body.
After completing this task, I do have a few study techniques that provide you with an easy way to learn the bones of the body. Before you get the games, you’ll want to make use of your book and models in the laboratory.
Most labs have a bag of bones that can be assembled into a human skeleton. The act of touching the bones, naming them, and putting the skeleton together will help you memorize names of bones in the body.
Besides, you can have fun in class with the skeleton: Roll Mr. Bones next to somebody and put the skeleton’s arm on somebody’s shoulder!
The skeleton is divided into two categories: the axial skeleton and the appendicular skeleton.
The axial skeleton consists of the core, including your skull, vertebrae, ribs. It forms the “axis” on which all the other bones attach.
Rather than memorizing all the bones of the appendicular skeleton, it easier to remember what the axial skeleton contains and know that everything else is appendicular.
Because the axial skeleton bones, especially the cranium, is harder to remember, we’ll focus attention on the appendicular bones, which will help with memorizing anatomy.
Visual cues for identification
For me, the easiest way to name the bones is by associating them with an event or word. A couple examples follow.
As a cyclist, I usually watch many bike races. I’ve witnessed many broken clavicles during crashes, which means a lot of people hold the location between the neck and shoulder because it hurts. That’s where the broken bone is.
Another example is the scapula — aka shoulder blade. It is shaped like an ice scrapper, which provides a visual cue. These visual cues help remember the names of the bones and their locations.
Position as a way to name bones in your body
Position is another helpful tool. The radius and ulna are very difficult to keep straight. But there’s two ways to do so with position.
First, in the anatomical position, the ulna is always medial to the radius, which makes it easy to identify.
Second, the ulna is longer and has a notch positioned at one end; that notch makes it look like a monkey wrench.
You should be able to remember the hip bones by position, too. The illum is always above the ischium, which can be remember by the first two letters of each bone — “il” is always above/before “is” in the alphabet and on the bone.
Bones are classified into long, short, flat and irregular bones. As you’ll notice, the classifications are based on shape. But it is important to remember examples of each type. Short bones: wrist and ankle. Flat bones: Sternum, ribs, skull. Irregular bones: Vertebrae and hip bones.
A song about bones: Using mnemonics for memory
The carpus (wrist) and tarsus (ankle) are a little tougher to memorize by visual cues or position. An easier technique involves a memory jogging phrase. First, though, let’s name off the wrist bones.
Starting proximally in the anatomical position, the carpal bones: Scaphoid, Lunate, Triquetrum, Pisiform, Trapezium, Trapezoid, Capitate, Hamate.
A better solution to remember that is to use this mnemonic: “Some Lovers Try Positions That They Can’t Handle.”
The same device can be applied to the tarsals.
Brute force to learn the anatomy of the skull
I left the cranium until last because this is the most difficult, with 22 bones that need to be memorized.
The best way to do this is to use a 3D model. Learning the skull bones from a book is hard and you’ll need to see and touch the model to memorize it.
I hope this article has provided an easy way to learn the bones of the body.