Memorizing the Body Systems Using Mnemonics and Fun
In this article, we dive into the fascinating world of the human body systems and their intricate structures and functions. But that’s not all – we also have a special technique for you to master the various body systems! It’s called mnemonics. In addition, we present you with an exciting challenge that combines learning with fun. Test your knowledge with not one but two captivating crossword puzzles.
Human Body and Major Body Systems
The human body is a complex biological machine comprised of various body systems. These body systems are groups of organs that work together to maintain internal stability, ensuring the body’s survival and optimal functioning.
There are 10 major organ systems in the body: the integumentary, musculoskeletal (muscular and skeletal), nervous, endocrine, circulatory, respiratory, digestive, urinary, reproductive (male and female), and lymphatic systems, discussing their structures and functions. According to the National Cancer Institute, each body system has its own basic structure and is responsible for certain functions, as explained below.
The integumentary system, the body’s outermost protective covering, is made up of the skin, hair, nails, exocrine glands, and sensory nerves. According to Verywell Health, the main job of the integumentary system is to protect the body from elements in the environment, such as pollution and bacteria. Other functions include helping to retain bodily fluids, eliminating waste products, and regulating body temperature.
The musculoskeletal system is made up of the skeleton and the muscles that are attached to it. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, the muscular system and the skeletal system together provide the body’s basic structure, posture, and ability to move. Separately, they each have their own structures and functions.
Muscular: The muscular system is composed of muscle fibers, connective tissue called fascia, and tendons. According to Medical Terminology for Health Professions, 9th Edition (by Shroeder, Ehrlich, Smith, and Schroeder), the role of the muscular system is to keep the body erect and move the bones of the skeleton. Muscle movement generates heat to keep the body warm and helps the blood flow through the veins as it returns to the heart. In addition, the muscles help with digestion and to move fluids through the ducts and tubes associated with other body systems.
Skeletal: The skeletal system is comprised of these major structures: the bones, bone marrow, cartilage, joints, ligaments, synovial membrane, synovial fluid, and bursae. As stated in Medical Terminology for Health Professions, the skeletal system acts as the body’s framework and is responsible for supporting and protecting the internal organs while also serving as a mineral storage reservoir and producing blood cells. In addition, the joints work together with muscles, ligaments, and tendons, enabling many types of body movements.
The nervous system’s main structures are the brain, spinal cord, nerves, and sensory organs and receptors, such as the eyes (sight), ears (hearing), tongue (taste), nose (smell), and skin (touch). According to the National Institutes of Health, the function of the nervous system is to send electrical signals between the brain and the rest of the body, including internal organs. The brain is made up of networks of communicating nerve cells, or neurons, and non-neurons, called glia. These networks allow different brain parts to communicate and work together to control body functions, emotions, thinking, behavior, and other activities.
The endocrine system is composed of many glands: the hypothalamus, pituitary, and pineal glands in the brain; thyroid and parathyroid glands in the neck; thymus gland between the lungs; adrenal glands on top of the kidneys; and pancreas behind the stomach. According to WebMD, ovaries in females and testes in males are also part of the endocrine system. The glands make hormones that control a person’s moods, growth and development, metabolism, organs, and reproduction. Furthermore, they control how the hormones are released and send them into the bloodstream, enabling them to reach targeted cells and organs throughout the body.
The circulatory system, sometimes called the cardiovascular system, contains the heart, blood, and blood vessels consisting of arteries, capillaries, and veins. According to News Medical, the heart is the central part of the circulatory system and is responsible for pumping blood, supplying oxygen and nutrients, and removing metabolic wastes such as carbon dioxide from the tissues in the body.
The respiratory system is composed of these major structures, according to Medical Terminology for Health Professions, 9th Edition: the nose, sinuses, pharynx (throat), larynx (voice box), epiglottis, trachea, bronchi, alveoli, and lungs. The responsibility of the respiratory system is to deliver air to the lungs, transport oxygen from the inhaled air to the blood for delivery to the body’s cells, remove waste products, such as carbon dioxide, from the body while exhaling, and produce airflow through the larynx that makes speech possible.
The digestive system consists of these main structures, according to the NIDDK: mouth, esophagus, stomach, small and large intestines, rectum and anus, liver, gallbladder, and pancreas. StatPearls [Internet] reports the function of the digestive system is to digest and absorb food and then excrete the waste materials with the help of the liver, gallbladder, pancreas, small intestine and large intestines, and rectum.
The urinary system, according to Cleveland Clinic, consists of the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. The main functions of this system are to filter the blood to separate toxins from nutrients, return vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and proteins to the bloodstream, and transfer waste products and urine from the kidneys through the ureters and to the bladder for excretion from the body via the bladder and urethra.
The reproductive system is composed of the testes, excretory and ejaculatory ducts, seminal vesicles, prostate, bulbourethral glands, and the penis in males. As reported by the National Cancer Institute, the reproductive system in females includes the ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, vagina, accessory glands, and external genital organs. The male reproductive system produces and delivers sperm into the female body for fertilization. Conversely, the female reproductive system produces eggs and provides a nurturing environment for fetal development.
The lymphatic system, a vital part of the immune system, includes the following structures: bone marrow, thymus, lymph nodes, spleen, lymph fluid, lymphatic vessels and ducts, tonsils, and adenoids. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the lymphatic system contains immune cells that protect the body against infection and destroy old or abnormal cells in the body that are not needed. Additionally, the system maintains normal fluid levels in the body and absorbs fats and fat-soluble vitamins, so they can move through the bloodstream.
Memorizing the Names of the Body Systems
Mnemonics is a term you may be familiar with, as we previously discussed how it works to learn ICD-10-CM codes.
Using mnemonics to learn the names of the body systems works by coming up with a memorable phrase that uses all the first letters of the body systems. For example, here is a catchphrase using the first letters of the body systems:
“Mr. Dice clearly loves running under never-ending skies in rapid exploration.”
The first letters of each word, used in order, are “M, D, C, L, R, U, N, S, I, R, and E.
M – Muscular (Mr.)
D – Digestive (Dice)
C – Circulatory (clearly)
L – Lymphatic (loves)
R – Respiratory (running)
U – Urinary (under)
N – Nervous (never-ending)
S – Skeletal (skies)
I – Integumentary (in)
R – Reproductive (rapid)
E – Endocrine (exploration)
An alternative phrase, which may make it easier to recall the body systems, is:
“My sister Roxy enjoys chilling in Uncle Ron’s nearby Dream Lodge.”
In this example, each of the words begins with the letters in this order: “M, S, R, E, C, I, U, R, N, D, and L.
M – Muscular (My)
S – Skeletal (sister)
R – Respiratory (Roxy)
E – Endocrine (enjoys)
C – Circulatory (chilling)
I– Integumentary (in)
U – Urinary (Uncle)
R – Respiratory (Ron’s)
N – Nervous (nearby)
D – Digestive (Dream)
L – Lymphatic (Lodge)
You can choose to use either one of these or make up your own. The group of words does not need to make sense and can be cute, funny, or serious. Be sure to use all the letters from each of the body systems and mix them up in any order you wish.
Other Ways to Learn the Human Body Systems
There are various ways to learn the body parts, functions, and systems, including textbooks, flashcards, and games. I personally enjoy using crossword puzzles as a fun supplement to my learning. In fact, I would love to share a few crossword puzzles with you!
Crossword Puzzles on the Body Systems
Give these crossword puzzles a try! Test your knowledge of the human body systems with these two engaging crossword puzzles. One is an interactive online puzzle on the body systems and their structures, and the other puzzle, which can be printed out, is on the body systems and their functions.