What is "Vital A&P"? It is looking at A&P from vitalistic, rather than a mechanistic perspective. Everything that happens in our bodies is a result of something else – but there is an intelligence to how our bodies operate, and without that intelligence, they don't work. When that intelligence is stopped, death occurs. There are metabolic processes, cellular processes, communication between cells, messenger systems, long distance communication, even inter species collaboration all occurring in our bodies. It's fine to break everything down into little pieces to learn it, but when you look at the overall function, until you grasp that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, you lose an integral part of the picture.
In this book, I aim to review basic A&P concepts, and reveal just how intricately the systems are related to each other. Rather than using a system by system approach, we will be talking about different functions that our bodies perform, and in the process you will see the millions of connections between the systems, and hopefully realize that studying the body in a systemic approach loses much of the the wonder of the body.
We often think that if we are talking about respiration, the only system we are looking at is the respiratory system. However, while it can easily be seen that the respiratory system might be primary in that function, it's imperative that the cardiovascular system also be functioning. The kidneys need to function. The nervous system needs to properly function. Hormones need to be properly balanced, and even the digestive system plays a role. For every function of the body, every system needs to be working.
I'm hoping that this textbook will bring some of those connections to light for you, and to spark your interest in further studies along these lines. For too long, we have been studying A&P from a systemic perspective – let's bring the whole being back into the picture!
The text is broken up by necessary life functions. For some chapters, we will cover functions that are commonly associated with specific systems, but bringing in the other systems necessary for the function to occur fully. So you'll hear about both the “lead actors” - systems or organs with starring roles, and the “supporting actors” - the organs and systems which are vital to the overall function being discussed, but with more “bit parts”. Some of the necessary life functions will be covered in every module, and you will see how every necessary life function must be working in every smaller part.
The tentative outline for chapter subjects is as follows:
Foundational Concepts - In this chapter(s), we will cover the necessary foundation concepts that will help you understand the rest of what is covered. Most of them you have probably been exposed to before, possibly in greater depth. Here, we will cover them to the depth that you need to understand them to in order to grasp the rest of the text. You can bookmark this chapter or particular concepts to review as they are covered in later chapters.
Maintain boundaries & Responsiveness– how the body keeps the inside in and the outside out, and how we are able to detect changes in and respond to our environment.
Movement – how we get from A to B to C and back. We'll discuss internal movements more in depth as they apply to other functions.
Digestion – how we bring in nutrients to the body and process them
Excretion – how we get rid of the stuff we don't want inside.
Respiration – gas exchange in and out of the body
Reproduction (Parts I and II) – how we create new humans and propagate the species.
Growth – how we get bigger – we start out as two cells joining – how do we get from there to adulthood?
Stress vs. Relaxation – we have essentially two states of being – rest/relaxation, and fight/flight – in this chapter we'll explore the differences and how each are essential, and what happens when the balance shifts.
Immunity, Healing and Repair – our bodies not only maintain boundaries, we protect them – the immune system is the guard on the wall, and the soldier that protects us every day.
Homeostasis – how our bodies maintain a consistent internal environment. we'll cover this a little bit today, and our final chapter will be pulling everything back together covering the big picture of homeostasis again.