A new app developed by Kings College Hospital aims to reduce anxiety among children who must undergo an MRI scan.

With their confined space and loud tapping noises, MRI scans can be difficult enough for adults. For children they can be even more distressing –or a child may simply struggle to stay still for the hour a scan takes, making the scan less useful.  Some children may need a mild sedative or even a general anaesthetic to have the scan.

King’s College Hospital has developed a virtual reality (VR) app to hel p children prepare for the scan in a safe setting. Ideally viewed through a VR headset the app, My MRI at King’s, simulates in panoramic 3D the full MRI experience, from arrival at hospital where they are greeted by Ewan, a cheerful radiographer who takes them through the process in a calm and friendly way. The app is easy to download and has options for 3D or tablet / mobile. It can be used with parents at home or with Play Specialists, trained childcare workers  help children through their hospital experiences.

The idea for My MRI at King’s came from Jonathan Ashmore, an MRI Physicist at King’s College Hospital. The app was co-designed by Learning Technologist, Jerome di Pietro, with input from Play Specialists.

Consultant Paediatrician, Dr Darshan Das, says “So far the app has had some really positive feedback and I can see that it has the potential to significantly reduce anxiety”. 

It is a quick win for healthcare to take advantage of these commercial technological advances, but apps like these need to be evaluated to ensure they are beneficial and useful. Keep an eye on our Healthcare futures page where we will shortly be posting a summary of our work on the potential of virtual reality in healthcare.