Getting an MRI can be scary and uncomfortable, especially if you’re claustrophobic. While sedation is an option, there’s growing concern about the effects of general anesthesia on the developing brains on children. Now there is a new program that can eliminate the risks by training kids to have drug-free MRI’s.
If you have an MRI, these are the rules:
“I walk in the room, I go on the table, the table rises, I go in the machine, and I stay very still,” said 7-year-old, master of the MRI, Christian Welch.
Christian knows that there’s no wiggle room in a MRI machine, but he’s a naturally a spontaneous roller.
The American Society of Anesthesiologists says children go under anesthesia about six million times a year in the United States. Still, Christian’s mom didn’t want to put him under.
“There are always risks with anesthesia,” said Christian's mom, Melody Welch. “I’m a nurse and I know that very well.”
The most feared risks are brain damage and death, but doctors say that almost never happens. Sedation-free scanning wipes out those risks. It also reduces wait times for scheduling, which means faster test results.
That’s why Melody signed Christian up for Wolfson Children's Hospital's free, new MR-I am Ready! Program.
“It was an answer to a prayer,” says Melody.
“Our strategy is just to help kids feel prepared and so in that way they feel in control. They know they’re not going to be surprised by anything,” explained Wolfson Children’s Hospital’s Child Life Specialist Laura Merriem McCalvin.
Armed with pictures and video, Laura introduces kids to the MRI—what it is, what it does and what it sounds like.
Laura asked Christian, “How loud is it again?” Christian replied, “It’s really, really, really loud.”
Next, kids practice lying still inside this play tunnel while listening to those loud sounds and thinking about what makes them happy.
“We plan what they’re going to think about while they’re in there, so they have a job to do,” said Laura. “Their job is to hold still, and think about whatever they chose.”
Melody says Christian thinks about, “Star Wars. You know they have great imaginations, so he just laid there very still and thought about a million things.”
In the end, Christian was picture perfect.
“Easy,” said Christian.
Christian was able to remain perfectly still for two hours!
If you would like to take part in the free training, you can call Laura Merriem McCalvin, CCLS at (904)202.8548. You can also email her at Laura.McCalvin@bmcjax.com.
If you can’t make it to Wolfson Children’s Hospital for the training, you can review the MR-I Am Ready prep book.