Tips for Working With Cadavers

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During your formal massage therapy training, all of your work will not be dong on actual people.  You will spend some time working on cadavers.  This is especially true in the case of learning about anatomy.  If the idea of working with cadavers bothers you, here are some tips to help relieve your fears.

If you can, try to arrange for a visit ahead of when you are scheduled to go.  Early on in your studies, before you get into the meat of your anatomy class, see if you can go to the anatomy lab.  This will allow you to look at and get a feel for tissues in the body.  Being able to get an early look at the cadaver for a few minutes might help you withstand having to spend hours with it later on.

Cadavers are a gift.  They were once real people, living and breathing like you and I.  As such, be thankful that they decided to donate their body to science, so that you and others could learn.  Working with a cadaver will allow you to practice different techniques without hurting someone.  While there are benefits to working with a live person, you will never be able to do as much to them as you would a cadaver (unless of course you decide to become a surgeon).  Take this as a chance to learn as much as possible.

Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty!  There is nothing you can do to hurt the cadaver so feel free to poke, prod, and separate.  When you work on cadavers, you will focus on various parts of the body.  Part of your study may deal more with muscles while a subsequent experience will focus more on viscera.

It’s okay to still “feel” and show emotion.  In the beginning, and maybe never, you will not be capable of being completely clinical and void of emotion.  This is natural and perfectly okay.  Just remember to not let it consume you that you forget what it is you are there for.

Make sure you dress comfortably.  You will be on your feet for a considerable amount of time.  If your lab doesn’t provide you with a lab coat, you might want to consider bringing in an old shirt to wear over your clothes.  Make sure it’s something you’re not attached to, as it might get dirty.  Expect the smell of formaldehyde to be a bit unpleasant.  You can either choose to rub scented oil underneath your nose or just deal with the smell.  In time, you will get used to it.

There’s so much more to learn about in the bodywork and massage therapy industries.  Check this out if you’d like to read more about a massage therapist job.

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