Human anatomy demonstrator Sara McNorton (centre) explains the virtual dissection table to medical staff of Cirque du Soleil.Human anatomy demonstrator Sara McNorton (centre) explains the virtual dissection table to medical staff of Cirque du Soleil.

Anatomy lab provides refresher to circus medical team

The circus was in town — and its medical team took the opportunity to stop by the University of Windsor for a quick workshop on anatomy.

Physiotherapists, coaches, and a performer from the circus troupe Cirque du Soleil reached out to human anatomy demonstrator Sara McNorton with a request for some hands-on experience.

“The medical team reaches out to local universities when they are in various cities,” says McNorton. “They like to see what the universities have to offer, and they use that opportunity for a refresher course on anatomy.”

Vincent Turpin, a physiotherapist with Cirque du Soleil, says visiting various universities helps the medical team reconnect with the basics that sometimes get lost or forgotten due to the consistent environment they experience at the circus.

“We always see the same sort of injuries,” says Turpin. “We’re always in the cirque environment and the circus world, and always working in the same environment. These opportunities allow us to make professional exchanges with other like-minded people.”

The team visited the University of Windsor campus May 16 and looked at specimens in the anatomy lab as well as the new virtual dissection table.

“One of the big takeaways of the virtual dissection table is that it allowed us to see through the eyes of a surgeon,” says Turpin. “We could open up a body and see inside without actually doing it. It is great that the University of Windsor has access to this type of technology, as it made it more engaging to learn hands-on through that sort of medium.”

McNorton says she feels fortunate to have been able to facilitate the experience.

“While the team enjoyed the virtual dissection table, they were super-engaged in the dissection specimens we have in the lab,” she says. “They were very interested in the differences I presented between humans and cats and were eager to put on a pair of gloves and do some exploring.”

The troupe performed in Windsor May 15 to 19 as part of the North American tour of its production “Corteo.”

—Darko Milenkovic

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