MRI simulators

A Design Technology teacher at Prestfelde School has tasked his pupils with building an imitation MRI scanner to help young patients overcome fears of undergoing scans. Vaughan Paterson was asked to create an MRI simulator by consultant paediatric radiologist Dr Jaya Armanath. She told him about a project in Liverpool, which showed that even by playing with cardboard boxes to simulate the MRI experience, children showed far less anxiety when having to go in for the real thing.

Vaughan said, “My own daughter is severely disabled and has had to go in for MRI scans at Birmingham. It’s the loud knocking that’s so frightening.

“There’s a toy MRI simulator available commercially, but it costs thousands of pounds. What we’re trying to do is to recreate that experience, using simple materials.”

If children can practice using the MRI in a realistic scan environment, Vaughan explained, they can learn to hold still – and overcome their fears of being in a confined space. He tasked his Y8 scholarship class with designing the prototype last summer.

“We treated it like an episode of The Apprentice, with the hospital as the client,” Vaughan explained. “They settled on designing something that looked like a castle, with turrets and crenellations, with flags on top and a stretcher with a trolley on wheels. Children could be pushed through and come out the other side. We are also aiming to build in some electronics to create noise.”

The project is now in the hands of the school’s Craft Club, who will hand it over to Children’s Services at Princess Royal Hospital in Telford on completion.


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