Speed Bones MD
I still recall vividly a day in second grade when my class had show and tell. Some of my peers proudly displayed stuffed animals of utmost importance, some brought those fuzzy, colorful caterpillars founds all over the New England countryside, and some showed off a new toy in their collection. On that particular day of show and tell I decided to lug in a giant and well-worn copy of my dad’s Grey’s Anatomy, complete with clear pages of anatomically correct naked men and women, their entire circulatory and nervous systems exposed, with overlaying pages of muscular and skeletal formations. I carefully flipped each page, taking care to mention those words dad often said, like “angina pectoris” and “atherosclerosis,” and I breezily swept past the naked images, viewing them simply as the medical diagrams they were. My face later reddened and I burst into tears when all my classmates could do was laugh and giggle and point their fingers at certain pendulous objects on both the male and female body.
Years later I still hold a great fascination for the human body, for both anatomy and physiology. While it was never my ambition to suffer through the MCAT, plough through years of medical school and residency and become a doctor, simply spending 20 years of my life with a doctor – an influential one at that – was enough to give me a solid interest in medical terminology and anatomy. For me, the iPhone app Speed Bones MD by Benoit Essiambre is a giant refresher course in the basics, and a tongue-twisting educational foray into the much more difficult skeletal anatomy that Med students have to know. Speed Bones MD is a great educational asset – a digital flashcard system, if you will – that any student studying physiology or anatomy or biomechanics could benefit from using, even if they’re not pre-Med.
Speed Bones opens with a wryly humorous drawing of a skeleton casually leaning against what looks to be a bovine skull, as if just daring you to begin the test. To start from the very beginning, tap the word Start near the top of the screen; otherwise, for those wanting a refresher course, you may choose from any of the 18 levels to practice. For the daredevils cracking their knuckles in breezy nonchalance over the difficulty of Speed Bones, to not underestimate so quickly. The game – I like to call it as such – covers many, many, many bones and their in-between spaces, and allots you roughly 10 seconds to label each identifier given. To select an answer, tap the screen on the bone part that corresponds with the name, and Speed Bones will award you points based on your precision and will even give you bonus points for a quicker response. For better accuracy, hold your finger down where you tap to enable a zoon function, so that you may better see where exactly your finger is pointing. All your high scores will be saved.
At first I was cocky, speeding through all the basic bones (a Fibula here, a Metacarpal there, now gimme an Ilium!), but once I hit Level 6 and started seeing phrases like Facet for Occipital Condyle, I started feeling a little out of my league. On the first level you have the entire skeleton pictured before you so you may identify larger bones like the humerus, the ulna and radius, the femur, the tibia and fibula, the patella, and various smaller bones in the hands and feet (tarsals, metatarsals, phalanges and so forth). The second level shows different sections of the spine, including a lateral view of the spinal column, and different vertebral cross-sections of the thoracic and lumbar regions, and other parts like the axis and atlas. The subsequent levels delve deeper into the more specific anatomical portions of the skull, back, arms, and so on. For anyone with a prior background – or plain common sense – in medical latin or basic biological viewpoint indicators like “lateral,” “medial,” “orbital” and “anterior” may be able to logically guess his way through a few levels. However, Speed Bones MD is definitely not a guessing game, and it takes serious practice and dedication to remember everything from start to finish.
For only $0.99, Speed Bones MD offers a course in skeletal anatomy for a much better price than those overpriced, high gloss, and colorfully laminated flashcards you find in college bookstores and Barnes & Nobles. These ones also won’t get lost, or crumpled, or put out of chronological order for ease of use. While the zoom feature and accuracy points can take some adjusting to – and curiously enough, may not be as accurate as the image on your test – Speed Bones MD is a great app for anyone on the high school, university, or medical school level who is seriously, or casually interested in learning about the skeleton and its many mysteries.