What Is Applied Physiology?

Karyn Maier
Karyn Maier

Physiology is the study of the biological systems of living things, such as plants or animals. One type of physiology, human physiology, recognizes that the integrated processes that take place between the cardiovascular, respiratory and urinary systems, for example, are what enables the body to regulate fluid volume, internal temperature, potenz hydrogen (pH) levels and blood pressure. The basic principles of physiology as a whole remain constant, regardless of the subject, and it is generally accepted that what physiology reveals about the cellular functioning of microorganisms can be extrapolated to human physiology. Applied physiology goes beyond the study of biological systems and steps into practical applications. For example, anatomy involves the study of muscle, organs and connective tissue in terms of form and structure, but this field is more concerned with the purpose and function of these systems and how they relate to the rest of the organism.

Applied physiology studies how proteins and other components of muscle cells function.
Applied physiology studies how proteins and other components of muscle cells function.

There is a difference between applied physiology and clinical practice, although many fields in the life sciences are closely related. Several new veins of scientific disciplines have emerged because of the approach taken. Paleobiology, biochemistry and pharmacology are among those disciplines.

Some who studied applied physiology work with athletes as a sports trainer.
Some who studied applied physiology work with athletes as a sports trainer.

Applied physiology also seeks to understand how certain factors might alter or hinder system functioning by monitoring how each system interacts with the other. This is generally accomplished by observing chemical or electrical feedback. For instance, it is known from the study of neurology that the nervous system plays a key role in controlling muscle movement. Applied physiology principles address how the nervous system functions to control muscle movement at the cellular level.

Future advances in applied physiology may benefit those with spinal cord injuries.
Future advances in applied physiology may benefit those with spinal cord injuries.

This is accomplished by employing the appropriate technique to monitor intracellular chemical changes or responses to controlled stimuli. This muscle monitoring might be in the form of observing its reaction to electrical impulses delivered mechanically or by the response to the presence of protein or another substance within muscle cells. In addition, many researchers believe in the value of regular muscle testing to gain additional biofeedback about the overall health status of an individual, as measured by muscle strength or weakness.

Although the basics of physiology date to the forefathers of medicine in ancient Greece, applied physiology still is a relative newcomer to the biomedical arena. It has, however, grown steadily in application and consistently diversified into other branches of medicine. Researchers hope that future advances in applied physiology will lead to improving the quality of life for people who experience limited range of motion because of age-related disorders, degenerative diseases, neurological conditions and even spinal cord injuries.

Human physiology recognizes that the processes that take place between the body's different systems are what enables the body to regulate blood pressure.
Human physiology recognizes that the processes that take place between the body's different systems are what enables the body to regulate blood pressure.
Karyn Maier
Karyn Maier

Contributing articles to wiseGEEK is just one of Karyn’s many professional endeavors. She is also a magazine writer and columnist, mainly for health-related publications, as well as the author of four books. Karyn lives in New York’s Catskill Mountain region and specializes in topics about green living and botanical medicine.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments

anon41916

what's the difference between applied physiology and other clinical physiology?

Post your comments
Login:
Forgot password?
Register: