An MRI is understandably uncomfortable for children because of the tight space, noises, and lying still involved; their discomfort can also make the experience difficult for the adults accompanying them.
Recent advancements – like faster scanners, simulators, and virtual reality apps – try to make the experience easier for both kids and grown-ups. But while not every hospital or imaging facility can offer these, there are several things parents and guardians can do to ensure their child goes through an MRI scan comfortably and successfully.
Prepare through play and practice
MRI scanning can take 30 minutes to one hour. Lying still in a closed, circular space for that length of time can be trying for an adult – and much more so for a young child.
Starts and stops due to a child’s fidgeting may be avoided if parents explain weeks beforehand what an MRI entails. “Practicing” for it, by laying still inside pillow forts, blankets, tents, or play foam, will better prepare them for the procedure.
Make the noises familiar
Familiarizing children with the noises they’ll hear inside the MRI machine can also help ease anxiety and discomfort. There are various online videos that play the beeping, buzzing, pulsating, and clanging sounds that are part of the procedure. If kids get used to these noises, they might no longer be afraid to go inside the machine that makes them. It helps that online videos show what the machine looks like, too – and that old and young people alike go in and out of them without any problem.
Keep the mood casual
On the day of the MRI, parents shouldn’t betray themselves by being outwardly nervous and letting their kids feel more nerves than they should. While reminding children to be on their best behavior – and to remember everything they “practiced” – parents should let them feel free to relax and play while waiting.
Keeping the atmosphere fun and casual is part of the rationale why some children go into MRIs wearing their favorite clothes or their favorite toys, too – as long as these don’t have metal parts, of course!
When Your Kid Needs an MRI: Optimizing the Experieince, Health.USNews.com
British hospital uses VR to make MRI less scary for kids, TheNextWeb.com