The LEGO Foundation is expanding their efforts to make it easier and less intimidating for children to get a Magnetic-Resonance Imaging scan (MRI). According to Good News Network, The LEGO Foundation is distributing LEGO kits of miniature MRI scanners to hospitals to help children cope and understand the process of getting an MRI. Research on the use of the LEGO kits has shown that they significantly improve the experience of children who need MRI’s by relieving their anxiety before going in to get the scan.
The LEGO miniature MRI scanner was created in 2015 as a passion project by LEGO employee Erik Ullerlund Staehr and a Denmark hospital. Recognizing the intimidation of the MRI machines and the stress they have on children who need to use them, Staehr found that helping patients understand what the machine does through something familiar to them like LEGOs has changed their whole experience for the better. The “playful learning approach,” which is also interactive, has made children more relaxed. According to Good News Network, “the model facilitates both role-play and dialogue so that the child feels safe and can build confidence and resilience before the actual journey, by reducing stress and anxiety.”
There are a myriad of benefits from using the LEGO miniature kit to prepare children to use the MRI machine. Since the first prototype was made, the department of radiology at Odense University Hospital has used them to help more than 200 children annually. According to Ulla Jensen, a member of the Department of Radiology, the noise of the machine is “daunting” for children and in order for the images to be taken successfully, the children need to stay very still for up to an hour. Jensen reports having seen children more calm as they get the MRI scan done, and it has even led to better quality images as the children are relaxed enough to remain still. In some cases, the use of anesthesia has even been reduced with the need for it waning since the LEGO model has decreased the level of anxiety.
With nearly 100 hospitals already benefiting from the use of the LEGO miniature kits, The LEGO Foundation is growing their reach by donating an additional 600 kits to hospitals around the world. Learning the function and features of the MRI machine through the familiar and playful tool of LEGO kits, The LEGO Foundation is making a difference in the experiences of children as they help them find their strength, courage, and confidence.