(09/30/13) - Taking drugs to ease the anxiety of having an MRI may soon become a
thing of the past for kids. Having an MRI can be scary and uncomfortable,
whether you are a kid or an adult- especially if you're claustrophobic. That's
why sedation is often used. But, there are a lot of concerns about the long term
effects of anesthesia on the brains of developing kids, so new approaches are
Christian Welch knows the rules when he goes for an MRI, "I walk in the room, I go on the table, the table rises, I go in the machine, and I stay very still."
Christian also knows there is no wiggle room, but he is a "spontaneous roller". That is just one of the reasons children go under anesthesia about six million times a year.
"There are always risks with anesthesia and I'm a nurse and I know that very well," says Christian's mother, Melody.
The most feared risks are brain damage and death. Those rarely happen, but if sedation is avoided, the risk drops to never.
That is why Melody signed Christian up for Wolfson Children's Hospital's new "MR-I Am Ready" program, "it was an answer to a prayer."
"Our strategy was just to help kids feel prepared and so in that way they feel in control," says Laura Merriem McCalvin, who helped pioneer the program.
Armed with pictures and video, Laura introduces kids to MRI - what it is, what it does, and what it sounds like.
Kids then practice lying still inside a play tunnel, while listening to those loud MRI 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," Lauren says.
"They have great imaginations so he just laid there very still and thought about a million things."
After the training, Christian was able to remain perfectly still for two hours.
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