It can look scary to children. “It’s long. It’s loud. The most important thing is you can’t move,” said Kristin Brown, a child life specialist with Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.
Kristin works with children to help prepare them for an MRI. “Depending on the age we can use the kitten scanner which is an awesome tool that looks like a miniature MRI machine so kids can visualize, oh I can lay in that, and go in that, nothing’s going to touch me, it’s just going to take my pictures,” she explained.
An MRI can take 15 minutes or a few hours. Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida has two unique options to help keep children calm during that time—one is sedation, and the other is movie goggles. “It’s essentially their own personal movie theater. They don’t see the MRI camera. They don’t see the room. There are headphones that can drown out the noise of the machine pretty well,” said Brown.
Before the MRI, children are prepped on what to expect and given a list of movies to choose from. “We find that if you have something fun to focus on and distract you while you’re lying there, it makes it so much easier to hold still and get some of these kids through without using medication,” she explained.
Children are also given a button and microphone connecting them to Kristin in case they need anything during the MRI. “Being able to be a part of these kids who maybe are a little afraid or nervous that providing the education and support to help them master this situation, to be a part of that journey and supporting them that way is one of the best things,” she said.
Children can also listen to music if they prefer. But if they can’t hold still or change their mind, health experts can sedate them to help them get through the MRI. Options to keep children distracted and calm.
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