A north scientist has plugged into virtual reality to help make a daunting hospital procedure less of an ordeal for children – and hit on an award-winning solution.
Raigmore Hospital’s Jonathan Ashmore was concerned that already-nervous youngsters were became even more upset when they had to lie down inside an MRI scanner.
The principal clinical scientist, who has been with NHS Highland since March 2017, came up with the idea for an app – and it was developed in a project involving the radiology and medical physics and bioengineering departments at Raigmore Hospital.
And it seem sthe answer lies in letting them see what was coming beforehand, with the help of virtual reality
Dr Ashmore said: “Scans would occasionally have to be stopped as the child was just too nervous. Giving children the full MRI experience via virtual reality seemed a good way to prepare our young patients for what can be a daunting experience.”
Working with a team including radiographers, play specialists and a digital content creator from King’s College in London an app was developed which, when used with a virtual reality headset provided by children’s charity the Archie Foundation, and a standard mobile phone, gives the child a full 360 degrees MRI experience, allowing them to feel as though they are inside the scanner and be more prepared for what it will be like on the day.
Since the app became a reality it has won five national awards and inquiries are coming in from around the world.
Dr Ashmore added: “The app takes you through every step of your MRI journey from the waiting area, into where the radiographer sits and then into the scanner itself.”
Adam Scotson, Lead MRI radiographer for NHS Highland, said “Feedback from our patients and their parents has been good with parents even saying the app has made them less anxious about their child’s procedure. I’m delighted it is being so well received.”
David Wood, Chief Executive of The Archie Foundation, said: “The team has taken a difficult problem and developed a really clever solution. We were delighted to help his idea become a reality.
“The ARCHIE Foundation exists to make the difference to local sick children and this project is the perfect example of how donations from our wonderful supporters allow us to do just that.”
The app is available for free download from the Google Play Store and Apple App Store under the name My MRI at Raigmore.