LEGO MRI Scanners available to hospitals around the world

Special LEGO models of MRI scanners are available for free to hospitals around the world from the LEGO Foundation, as part of a scheme to help children who will have a scan.

The LEGO Foundation will donate 600 LEGO model Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanners to hospitals around the world. Hospitals can apply for the builds, which can then be used to demonstrate the MRI process to children who will be undergoing such a scan.

It is a concept that originally came from LEGO employee Erik Ullerlund Staehr and Odense University Hospital, Denmark. Models are now being delivered to hospitals with special training materials. The sets are designed to help clinicians explain to children what the large and complex MRI machine is all about.

‘I’m extremely proud of this project and the positive impact it’s already had,’ says Erik Ullerlund Staehr, Chemical Technician at the LEGO Group. ‘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. From making a few LEGO MRI models with other LEGO employees in our free time, it’s amazing to see the project now being rolled out more broadly.’

From the press release:

The LEGO MRI Scanner is developed with a child-centered focus and learning through play approach, which strengthens children’s skill development. The model is designed around the child’s MRI treatment, and is a means for clinicians to facilitate both role play and dialogue so that the child feels safe and can build confidence and resilience before the actual journey, in turn reducing stress and anxiety. Play motivates the child’s natural curiosity and openness to try new, sometimes difficult, experiences. Because play facilitates a safe and comfortable “training space” for real-life events and consequences, it is a powerful way for children to develop their social and emotional skills. It can also be a part of a range of playful experiences that contribute to clinicians’ ambition of reducing the use of anesthesia.

‘MRI Scanners are huge machines. They also make a lot of noise which can be very daunting for children. Our team have found that use of models such as the LEGO model has led to more positive, calm experiences for many children,’ said Ulla Jensen from the Department of Radiology at Odense University Hospital Denmark. ‘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.’

So far the models have been sent to almost 100 hospitals, with LEGO employees building the sets before they are dispatched. Senior Model Designer Rok Zgalin Kobe has worked on the new version that hospitals will receive.

‘MRI scans can be scary, anxiety-inducing experiences for all of us, but especially so for children. Through a playful learning approach, such as the LEGO MRI Scanner, we’ve been able to take children through the process step by step to prepare them for what’s to come, and in turn, help them to feel safe by making the unknown, known,’ said Dorthe Feveile Kjerkegaard, Play & Health Specialist at the LEGO Foundation. ‘The feedback so far has been overwhelming. We’re honoured to be able to help both children and their parents have a more positive and less stressful experience, and look forward to supporting even more families around the world with the expansion of this concept.’

The LEGO Foundation will donate 600 models to the first 600 eligible applicants. Applicants must be based in a radiology department at a hospital, with an existing MRI scanning facility for use with children and adolescents.

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