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Q & A: Directional Terms (1)

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To avoid confusion in medicine and physical therapy, there exists standard medical and anatomical terms.  To describe physical movement, we use these same terms.

So as not to overwhelm you, I’d like to introduce some of the Anatomical Directional Terms that will help you to better understand the upcoming information in this Anatomy 101 section.

Medial: Toward the mid-line, middle, away from the side.

Lateral: Toward the side, away from the mid-line 


However, the actual term of motion for lifting your straight arms out to the side (like an airplane) is called Abduction, literally, to take away from.  The term of motion for returning the arms towards the mid-line is called Adduction, literally, to move towards or bring together.

Abduction: Refers to a motion that pulls a bone away from the mid-line of the body. In the case of the fingers and toes, abduction is the spreading of the digits away from the center-line of the hand or foot.
Adduction: Refers to a motion that pulls a bone towards the mid-line of the body.  In the case of the fingers and toes, adduction is the closing of the digits together.
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