An MRI is a common procedure. So are CT, X-ray, and PET scans. While not invasive in any way shape or form, they are important technological advances to help with the care and treatment of children in the healthcare setting.
These are also a common procedures that many children and families often fear. Even adults who need these imaging procedure have concerns about how being enclosed in a machine for a long period of time to gather necessary information to make an appropriate diagnosis and take the next step in treatment. With frightening noises, concerns of claustrophobia, and restriction of movement, it is no wonder how much of a challenge this can be for children.
It is important for children to understand that imagining is NOT an invasive procedure and understand that these types of equipment are designed to take pictures of their body so that the medical team can further understand what is happening in their body and how Child Life and the medical team can help them be taken care of and heal.
Child Life Specialists have done wonders in supporting children and families prepare for these procedures. Consults are encouraged since the support of Child Life decreases the likelihood of the healthcare staff to utilize anesthesia to sedate children prior to imaging (Durand, Young, Nagy, Tekes, & Huisman, 2015). I encourage parents to advocate for Child Life if services are available for their child in order to provide effective preparation. Especially for children under the age of 11 and those with developmental disabilities or concerns.
Resources for Parents and Professionals
While the intervention of Child Life is significant, how do we do it? And how are we advocating and introducing new tools to the healthcare field to continue providing procedural support for children that need such imaging testing?
One website I recommend to all children, families, and healthcare professionals is Kids Health. Using developmentally appropriate language, Kids Health is an excellent resource to use to help explain to children how things work and explaining healthcare related topics. One in particular is specific to MRIs: http://kidshealth.org/en/kids/video-mri.html?ref=search
Upon discovering a blog post from @ChildLifeMommy, an RSNA (Radiological Society of North America) conference from 2015 interviewed 2 developers to create new Lego model kits for healthcare professionals, including Child Life to use for procedural support. Information about these kits can be viewed here: http://www.auntminnie.com/index.aspx?sec=rca&sub=rsna_2015&pag=dis&ItemID=112797
There are also MRI Hero Kits that healthcare professionals can utilize to empower patients to feel confident about imaging procedures, consisting of superhero themed content. This can include: educational comic books, a video, superhero costumes, and a mock model. This can be checked out here: http://usa.healthcare.siemens.com/magnetic-resonance-imaging/mri-heroes-kit/pediatric-mri-information-for-healthcare-provider
Some healthcare facilities and hospitals have adapted and tested MRI Goggles by Cinemavision, to provide an interactive and safe way to help prevent claustrophobia during long MRI procedures. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill provides these goggles for its pediatric patients and have had positive results: http://givingpubs.unc.edu/documents/carolina_connections/summer2012/stories/Goggles/Goggles.html
Durand, D. J., Young, M., Nagy, P., Tekes, A., & Huisman, T. A. (2015). Mandatory child life consultation and its impact on pediatric MRI workflow in an academic medical center. Journal of the American College of Radiology, 12(6), 594-598.