VR goggles help relax pediatric patients in MRI
December 7, 2022
KINGSTON, Ont. – Last month, KHSC introduced VR goggles in the Diagnostic Imaging department at the Kingston General Hospital site for pediatric patients in need of an MRI scan. The goggles are part of a specially designed virtual reality system that can be operated inside an MRI machine. It not only allows young patients to watch a movie, but also blocks out the loud noises of the MRI.
“We’ve seen immediate success with this innovative technology for our pediatric patient population,” said MRI charge technologist Shelley Cabral. “During an MRI scan, the patient is required to lay still for up to an hour, which can be a challenging task for young patients. The VR system offers the distraction of watching a movie on Disney Plus, which gives us the time to finish a diagnostic scan.”
This technology will also allow KHSC to scan many pediatric patients without the use of sedatives. In the past, many of these children would have required general anesthesia to be able to undergo an MRI. This means these children can get scanned faster than they would have in the past and removes the small risks associated with anesthesia.
“We will be doing about 10-12 pediatric scans per-month using the VR system, so this really will have a big impact over the course of a year for a lot of kids in our region,” said Cabral.
The goggles were purchased with the help of donations from the University Hospitals Kingston Foundation (UHKF) staff lottery fund, and the Estate of local donor Larry Gibson.
“Larry passed away from cancer and was inspired by his own illness to give back to the community,” said Jay Rayner, trustee to Larry’s estate. “He would be very happy to have an impact in this way, especially for children and their families.”
One of those children could be Scotty Easton, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor during the summer of 2021.
Following his diagnoses through KHSC’s Children’s Outpatient Clinic (COPC), Scotty underwent brain surgery in Toronto to remove the tumor. During his time in Toronto, he was given a similar pair of VR goggles to wear during his MRI scan.
“Now, if I need a quick MRI, I can go straight to KHSC instead of spending a whole day driving to Toronto. It’s going to make a big difference and I’m really grateful,” he said.
It’s no secret hospitals can be a scary place for children, but thanks to this new technology MRI scans are now a little less frightening.