MUSC speech-language pathology students get a “head” start on understanding swallowing anatomy

CHP Web Team
December 20, 2022
SLP students hold 3D anatomy artwork of the human head

The MUSC Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) program uses interactive teaching methods for educating future speech pathologists. The “head project,” a popular exercise among students, is just one example of how students get creative to learn complex concepts like swallowing anatomy.

About the Project

Each year in their Adult Swallowing course, students create a 3D or 2D model of the head and neck anatomy to help them gain a better understanding of the anatomy relevant to swallowing. The project was adapted for the MUSC SLP program from an assignment developed by Corinne Jones, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, a faculty member at the University of Texas at Austin.

Students were given two options for creating their models. The first was to use a provided foam wig head cut longitudinally into right and left halves. The second was to use a 2D space of their choice. For example, paper or electronic files. In each instance, students were tasked with drawing or depicting human anatomy related to swallowing.

The Student Experience

Rachell Harglerode"Creating this head project allowed me to display the knowledge I obtained in class already and tactilely explore the areas I was unsure about. Gradually completing the project as I was learning the content in class created an opportunity to truly learn hands-on. Drawing the structures, lining the muscles up to those structures, and then showing how the cranial nerves innervated those muscles solidified the verbal and written information I received in class. The concept of the head for me, transformed from a discombobulated, complex system of many things to a meaningful set of visuals that are connected for specific purposes that are incredibly relevant to my field.”

Rachell Harglerode, Class of 2024

Lindsey Davis“More than anything, completing the head project helped to shift my perspective from the ‘what’ aspects of anatomy to the ‘why,’ ‘how,’ and ‘what would happen if’ aspects of swallowing in patients. This project helped build an in-depth understanding as we started training with measures such as cranial nerve exams and modified barium swallow studies. It was also fun to see the clever ways that my classmates created their anatomical models! This was an amazing project!”

Elizabeth Lindsey Davis, Class of 2024