Finding MRI comfort in space

Researcher making MRIs less medical and more fun for kids
Published: Oct. 16, 2020 at 3:01 PM CDT
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Iowa City, Iowa (KCRG) - A researcher at the University of Iowa is studying the impact of cancer treatments on the brain, specifically in kids. But getting kids comfortable with an MRI machine can be a challenge.

With the help of child life specialists, Dr. Ellen Van der Plas developed a space theme to make it easier for kids. Each child gets a book called, “Tom’s MRI Adventure” and uses a mock machine to prepare them for the real thing. The machine has vinyl wraps, made in Iowa City, to look like a space adventure. “We wanted to make it as fun as possible," says van der Plas. "And so we make that connection with space, where you might be going in a space shuttle. And that’s sort of the analogy that we’re using, making it less medical, more fun.

Van der Plas says adults already enjoy it, and plans to recruit kids to try it soon. With grant funds, she also bought a LEGO set that looks like an MRI machine that kids can play with before their own MRI.

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