MRI or Magnetic Resonance Imaging is a valuable and versatile medical resource. By using strong magnetic fields and radio waves, an MRI can produce detailed images of the inside of a body. However, it can be a daunting procedure for some, especially children. Not only do patients have to lay flat inside the tunnel of the scanner for a while, but the machine is also known for emitting loud tapping noises. In an effort to make it easier for kids undergoing an MRI scan, LEGO created toy sets of an MRI scanner to help alleviate their fears.
Created with children in mind, the LEGO MRI scanner can be used by radiologists to walk children through the process before the actual procedure. By providing a safe “practicing space” through something familiar like a LEGO set, stress and anxiety can be greatly reduced.
The LEGO MRI scanners began as passion project for LEGO employee Erik Ullerlund Staehr and Odense University Hospital, Denmark in 2015. Since their first prototype, the staff reports that over 200 children aged 4 to 9 have had their concerns addressed and relieved every year. Almost simultaneously, medical staff in the U.S. and Belgium came up with their own LEGO MRI scanners. Now, they've all joined forces with the LEGO Foundation to develop this model and help it reach more places.
“MRI Scanners are huge machines,” says Ulla Jensen from the Department of Radiology at Odense University Hospital Denmark, which collaborated with the LEGO Group when creating this set. “They also make a lot of noise which can be very daunting for children. Our team have found that use of models such as the LEGO model has led to more positive, calm experiences for many children. This benefits the child, their family, and also the quality of the MRI scan, which relies on the person being very still for up to an hour to work.”
Hoping to help as many children as possible, LEGO donated 600 LEGO MRI scanners to hospitals around the world. These models were then built by volunteers and shipped for free. Since the response to this project was overwhelmingly positive, LEGO will now work closely with those hospitals that were assigned a LEGO MRI scanner to integrate their feedback and ideas to any future designs.
To stay up to date with this project, visit LEGO's Learning Through Play website.