Introduction: Anatomical knowledge and understanding are key components of physiotherapy education and practice. Traditionally, anatomy has been taught as a foundation stream within the first year(s) of physiotherapy education. This curricular model is based on the assumption that further learning in subsequent years builds upon the knowledge gained in the early stages of the program. However, the retention rate in all basic sciences has often been called into question. In anatomy, several studies suggest that anatomy knowledge endures considerable attrition, highlighting the need for the evaluation of retention rates. This paper aimed at making a preliminary assessment of the knowledge and retention of anatomy among physiotherapy students.

Materials and Methods: We used a carpal bone identification test and assessed 129 first year and 113 fourth year physiotherapy students.

Results: 20% of the students managed to identify all bones while 47% were able to identify more than five bones. The best recognised bones were pisiform and scaphoid while the most difficult to identify were trapezium and trapezoid.

Conclusion: Overall, first year students performed better than their fourth year counterparts which suggested attrition of anatomical knowledge. Educational strategies based on revision, integration and clinical application of anatomy could contribute towards the decrease of attrition of anatomical knowledge.


anatomy education, retention, physiotherapy, carpal bones

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