Video goggles at Wolfson Children’s Hospital help children relax during MRIs 


Wolfson Children's Hospital has implemented new technology that allows children to watch movies on special goggles while they have an MRI. Cinemavision Goggles are designed to help distract patients while they are inside the MRI machine, which can cause extreme anxiety in children and adults due to the loud noises it makes, the necessity to hold completely still, and the enclosure during a lengthy scan. Without this distraction and other techniques for preparing children for an MRI, many would require pediatric anesthesiologist-provided sedation, which has its own risks.

Wolfson Children's is the only hospital in Northeast Florida to offer Cinemavision Goggles as an option to patients, thanks to an anonymous donor. "They will help so many more of our kids do MRIs without sedation, especially kids with short attention spans and claustrophobia, as well as younger children," said Laura McCalvin, Child Life Specialist in the Radiology Department at Wolfson Children's.

St. Johns resident Dustty Davidson, 16, was the first patient to use the goggles after they were installed on May 29. On the right side of the anteroom behind him, a radiologist and technologists watched a screen showing images of his body from the MRI. Just to the left of that screen, a TV monitor displayed the "Scooby-Doo" movie that Dustty watched using his goggles while he was in the MRI bore, or tunnel.

Dustty enjoyed watching the movie during a 45-minute MRI scan of his hip. "The goggles were very cool," Dustty reported. "When you're watching a movie, you're totally focused on that. It was like watching TV, but you weren't using a TV – you were wearing glasses."

Patients like Dustty enter their own virtual world through Cinemavision goggles, complete with MRI-safe headphones that virtually shut out the machine noise and allow them to watch favorite DVD selections during the scan. The goggles help reduce the need for the child to be sedated during an MRI, as well as the cost and possible risks of anesthesia, said Cinemavision President David Salvadorini. It can also help to reduce the backlog of MRIs that have resulted at times due to requiring a pediatric anesthesiologist to perform sedation during the MRI scan.

The new MRI goggles are another tool that Wolfson Children's Hospital provides at no charge to help patients relax and avoid sedation. The hospital's Child Life Department already offers a program called "MR-I Am Ready!" that is designed to help alleviate patients' anxiety about having an MRI.

"MR-I Am Ready!" is geared toward children ages 6–11, to aid them in completing their scan without sedation. Wolfson Children's is one of the few children's hospitals in the United States offering the program, led by McCalvin, who is trained in helping children and adolescents adapt to the hospital setting. She assists children and their parents in preparing for the MRI through training—and guides them all the way through the actual procedure. One week before the actual MRI, they come to the hospital, where McCalvin shows pictures of everything the child will see; explains the sequence of events he or she can expect during the scan; and teaches coping strategies.

For instance, McCalvin has children practice lying still in a play tunnel while hearing the clanging sounds of the MRI scanner. This way, they can develop and rehearse coping skills for the actual MRI that they can continue practicing at home prior to the MRI.

Nearly all patients who have completed the training have gone on to have successful, sedation-free MRIs, reports McCalvin. "It makes it possible to schedule the MRI sooner than would be required with sedation and gets children and their families back to their normal routine, safely and quickly."

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