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Directional Terms

TermDefinitionexample
superior above or on top of the nose is superior to the mouth
inferior below feet are inferior to knees
cephalic / cephalad towards the head the head is cephalic to the shoulders
caudal / caudad toward the tail the hips are caudal to the shoulders
anterior toward the front or before the sternum is anterior to the vertebrae
posterior toward the back or behind the calf muscles are posterior to the shin
ventral refers to the belly; another way of saying anterior the belly button is on the ventral surface of the trunk
dorsal refers to back; another way of saying posterior the gluteal muscles are on the dorsal side of the body
proximal closer to the attachment point the shoulder is proximal to the elbow
distal aways from the attachment point the foot is distal to the knee
medial toward the midline of the body or organ the inner leg bone is on the medial side of the leg
lateral away from the midline of the body or organ the ears are lateral to the nose
frontal plane vertical field passing through the body, dividing the body into anterior and posterior portions abduction and adduction occur in the frontal plane
coronal plane alternate reference to the frontal plane, dividing the body into anterior and posterior portions abduction and adduction occur in the coronal plane
sagittal plane vertical field running through the body, dividing the body into right and left sides. flexion and extension occur in the sagittal plane
transverse plane horizontal field dividing the body into superior and inferior portions head rotation, external, and internal rotation occur in the transverse plane
Fowler's position positioning of a client in bed with head elevated when eating in bed, a client is most often comfortable in a Fowler's position
Trendelenberg position positioning of a client in supine with feet elevated above the head with excess blood loss or shock, a client should be positioned in a Trendelenberg position
orthopneic position positioning of a client leaning or resting with head and shoulders forward when having difficulty catching his breath, a client should sit in an orthopneic position
Sims' position side-lying position with both hips/knees bent, with the top hip bent more, often supported with pillows when pregnant, a woman may feel most comfortable sleeping in a Sims' position
supine on the back snoring may increase when sleeping in supine
prone on the belly newborns should not be left alone in a prone position
erect standing upright
sidelying positioning of a client on his or her side
flexing bending at a joint
extension straightening at a joint
abduction moving away from the center of the body
adduction moving toward the center of the body
supination moving upward or anteriorly holding a bowl of soup
pronation moving downward or posteriorly dropping a bowl of soup
rotation rolling a part on its axis looking side to side requires this movement
external rotation rotation away from the body's midline
internal rotation rotation towards the body's midline
eversion movement of the sole of the foot away from midline; also known as pronation
inversion movement of the sole of the foot towards midline; also known as supination
dorsiflexion flexing toes up towards the shin
plantarflexion pointing toes
Created by: boxlady