Week 4_Medicine & Art by Nicolina Greco

The following webcast editorial by Dr. Therese Southgate titled Medicine and Art puts the concepts we learned this week into great perspective:

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/561511

In her webcast, Dr. Southgate gives a compelling explanation as to what medicine has to do with art. She states three reasons: ”First, they share a common goal: to complete what nature has not. Second, they have a common substrate, the physical, visible world of matter. More significant, however, are the similar qualities of mind, body, and spirit demanded of the practitioners of each, painter and physician.” I found her explanation  extremely interesting because it allowed me to understand the philosophical relationship between the two realms of art and science, or medicine, instead of just relying on visual evidence to support this claim.

        Visionaries   

Both artists and doctors are visionaries who strive for perfection in their work. A sculptor may take years before he chisels every edge of a stone block to portray and essence of his masterpiece that he wanted to make known, just like a doctor may take years before he discovers the right chemical to complete his drug and cure a fatal disease. Artists and doctors are both keen observers who must pay close attention to their work, and “attention is nothing more than a state of receptiveness toward its object”, whether it be a doctor’s patient, or an artist’s canvas. Dr. Southgate further describes an affinity of medicine, stating that  ”medicine is itself an art,” an “art of doing.” I found this intriguing because in order to be a doctor, one must use the best tools and be very knowledgeable as to how to use his tools in his practice, just like an artist. There are so many comparisons that can be made between the mindsets of doctors and artists, it is just a matter of taking them into consideration to appreciate them and recognize how similar they truly are. 

Aside from the analytical, philosophical comparisons, there are many visual, applicable comparisons that can made between art and medicine. Many advanced medical technologies have been artistically innovated, such as prosthetic limbs for amputees. Medical researchers spend billions of dollars in the engineering of prosthetics in order to design an efficient robot that can surgically connect and adapt to the human neuromuscular system. The artistic incorporation of prosthetic limbs, however, is crucial to this technology because artists create an exterior that resembles the human limb. Take this prosthetic arm on the left, for example. The appearance of the synthetic hand looks amazingly realistic, and is perfectly crafted to maneuver with the engineering. Although the scientific aspect of this limb is arguably to be of greater importance to its design  in order for it to function, the artistic aspect is like icing on the cake; for a man without an arm to be surgically given a functional machine that not only replaces his limb, but visually resembles it, is an indescribable gift. Breakthrough technologies like prosthetics are due to the collaborative work of scientific and artistic professionals in order to achieve a common goal - to better people’s lives.

The following link is a video showing how much prosthetics help everyday people live normal lives:

watch?v=4dBl1_dryGM

In this video, a high-school teenage boy  shares his story of how he lives a normal life with his prosthetic leg, just like every other teen. What fascinated me is that fact that this boy is able to play a high-contact team sport with his prosthetic leg- football! I didn’t think it was possible…his story truly inspires me. It goes to show the many wonders and possibilities that the collaborative work of medical researchers  and artists can bring to society. 

-Nicolina Greco 

 


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