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Tackling pediatric fears of medical imaging

by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | March 08, 2021
From the March 2021 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

“For children, we create playful, imaginative and colorful places that will draw their attention away from any equipment and the typical sterile, medical environment,” he said. “For adults, we create a soothing and calming place that instantly helps put them at ease.”

This approach can be enhanced by incorporating visuals, noise effects and games that can bring a feeling of excitement to the imaging experience. GE Healthcare’s Pediatric Adventure Series, for instance, can make a patient feel like they’re part of an underwater expedition where they have to hold still so as not to bump into the coral, thereby preventing them from moving during the scan. “If the story makes sense to the child, they are more willing to play along,” said Mark Ciesko, Americas studio manager for global design at GE Healthcare.

Character Farms - Coral reef themed room with a yellow submarine MR facade.
Resonance Technology also uses visual effects to distract children. Its immersive 3D 50 inch LCD monitor, for instance, sits on the back of the MR scanner, with patients able to view image through a reflective mirror that pops into the tunnel of the scanner. This reduces claustrophobia and the need to sedate patients, according to company president, Mokhtar Ziarati. “The loud noise, tight space, dark tunnel, claustrophobia, and long scan times are all pretty scary to a child, let alone a sick child. To circumvent these issues, sedation has been the solution to scan kids. But using anesthesia has its own risks and associated problems, and is scary for the parents. Hence, methods that enable the option of imaging without sedation could increase patient safety and reduce associated costs.”

Audio is just as important to consider, as the loud noises of MR scanners can be unsettling. Effectively blocking out this sound can relax patients and make them feel more comfortable during the exam. “Our headphones are designed with SOUND+ Acoustic Enhancing Tubing. This enables the patient to more clearly hear the technologist’s instructions as well as the comforting music that relaxes them,” said Steve Loiacono, director of sales for healthcare at AVID Products, in regard to the company’s MR Safe headphones.

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