LEGO's Playful Approach Helps Children Having MRIs

This model is used to help calm and reduce anxiety.

Mar 17, 2022
LEGO's Playful Approach Helps Children Having MRIs | This model is used to help calm and reduce anxiety.

LEGO is associated with playing and fun by children all around the world. Now the Danish company is using the magic of play to help children cope with having an MRI.

While MRIs are important diagnostic tools that are used to detect a large variety of health issues, the machines are also large and noisy and can be very scary for children. LEGO has designed a miniature MRI teaching tool to help alleviate those fears.

The LEGO Foundation recently announced that it is donating 600 LEGO MRI scanner kits to hospitals around the globe, according to a company press release. Designed in 2015 by LEGO employee Ullerlund Staehr along with the Odense University Hospital in Denmark, the project is now being piloted with four training videos for hospital staff. The kits are not for sale and are being produced just for hospitals

“I’m extremely proud of this project and the positive impact it’s already had, Staehr said in the press release. “I’ve seen first-hand how children have responded to these models; making them feel more relaxed and turning an often highly stressful experience into a positive, playful one.”

How the MRI model works
Just like the company’s motto Learning Through Play, the MRI model is designed to take a play approach in helping to develop children’s’ coping skills about the treatment they will be having. The clinicians will use the model as a way to role-play in  a safe way with children about the MRI procedure and this helps to calm and alleviate fears.

“MRI Scanners are huge machines. They also make a lot of noise which can be very daunting for children, said Ulla Jensen from the Department of Radiology at Odense University.

“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,” she said.

The LEGO model MRI can be opened up by the children to reveal what’s inside the machine, reported Interesting Engineering. The colors of the model even reflect a hospital setting; white, gray and blue. The kit comes with two doctors and a patient who is about to enter the machine.

The MRI Kits success
To date, over 100 hospitals have received kits – that are built by volunteers – and the prototype used by Odense University Hospital already helped over 200 children aged four to nine every year, according to the press release.

The new models will be donated to the first 600 eligible applicants. The applicants must be based in a radiology department at a  hospital that already has an MRI scanning facility for children.

The LEGO foundation will collect information from the participating hospitals to use in building evidence-based research that will be used for other potential projects. But one thing is sure, making hospitals a less scary place for children will contribute to their healing and well-being.

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Bonnie has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.