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Erith family benefit from children’s rocket MRI simulator in UK first

PUBLISHED: 10:00 31 March 2018

Lewis, 8, with play specialist Miriam Kearley and the Playful MRI Simulator. Picture: Evelina London Children’s Hospital

Lewis, 8, with play specialist Miriam Kearley and the Playful MRI Simulator. Picture: Evelina London Children’s Hospital

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A family from Erith were among the many to benefit from the UK’s first rocket MRI simulator, which landed at Evelina London Children’s Hospital to help young patients overcome their fears about having a real scan.

The rocket MRI simulator. Picture: Evelina London Children’s HospitalThe rocket MRI simulator. Picture: Evelina London Children’s Hospital

Although a painless procedure, MRI scans require the patient to lie absolutely still in a confined space for between 20 to 90 minutes.

Lewis Lancashire, eight, was one of the first children to experience the rocket simulator.

His grandmother Vicki Lancashire said: “Lewis was scared of the idea of needing an MRI, but after practicing with the simulator he was much calmer when going through the real scan.

“The team at Evelina London did a great job at guiding him through exactly what he could expect, and we are really pleased that he didn’t need an anaesthetic to undergo the scan.”

The simulator is a UK first. Picture: Evelina London Children’s HospitalThe simulator is a UK first. Picture: Evelina London Children’s Hospital

Last year, around 3,000 children had an MRI scan at Evelina London, with around 2,500 of these young patients requiring a general anaesthetic.

Thanks to the new equipment, known as the Playful MRI Simulator, and with the help of play specialists preparing children beforehand, there has been a notable reduction in the amount of young patients needing a general anaesthetic.

Children can watch a film while lying inside the machine and are recorded by the simulator.

Motion sensors register any movement made during the practice session and the results are discussed with the child, their parents and the play specialist.

Tracy Moon, senior paediatric MRI radiographer at Evelina London, said: “The MRI simulator has been great for patients at Evelina London.

“It helps us explain to children what will happen during their real scan so they can feel in control and prepared.

“Encouraging children to have scans while awake avoids the small risks associated with a general anaesthetic, reduces anxiety and means the patient can go straight home afterwards.”

Evelina London is the first UK hospital – and 16th in the world – to install the innovative simulator, which is a smaller version of an MRI scanner.

Aimed at children up to 10 years old, the simulator has helped 19 young patients avoid having an anaesthetic within the first month of being used.

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