In this anatomy lesson, I’m going to demonstrate elevation and depression, which are special body movement terms that describe motion in a superior (up) or inferior (down) direction.
Elevation in Anatomy
Elevation refers to movement of a body part in a superior direction, or moving upward. When you walk into a hotel lobby, you have to get on the elevator to go up, right? We’d also say that a mountain has a peak “elevation” of 20,000 feet. Therefore, the term is pretty self-explanatory: elevation has a structure moving up, or superiorly.
Depression in Anatomy
Depression refers to movement of a body part in an inferior direction, or moving downward. When you are depressed, you feel down in the dumps, right? Therefore, depression is easy to remember as movement in an inferior, or downward direction.
Elevation and Depression in Anatomy
In anatomy, elevation and depression most commonly describe movements of the mandible (lower jaw) or scapulae (shoulder blades) within the frontal plane. When you move your lower jaw (mandible) in a downward direction, depression occurs. When you move your mandible upward, elevation occurs.
Similarly, when you move your scapulae up, elevation of the shoulder girdle occurs. When you move them back down, depression of the shoulder girdle occurs.
Elevation and Depression in Nursing
Like other body movement terms, elevation and depression are used by nurses and other healthcare professionals when assessing patients or documenting.
For example, in Nurse Sarah’s head-to-toe assessment video, she applies resistance to my mandible and asks me to open my mouth (depression) as part of her assessment of cranial nerve V, the trigeminal nerve that innervates the muscles responsible for elevation and depression of the mandible.
Free Quiz and More Anatomy Videos
Take a free elevation and depression quiz to test your knowledge, or review our quick elevation vs depression video. In addition, you might want to watch our anatomy and physiology lectures on YouTube, or check our anatomy and physiology notes.