As a Child Life Specialist in medical imaging, MRI preparation is the bulk of my work. Unlike X-Rays and CT’s which only take a couple minutes, an MRI typically takes 30 minutes to an hour and is very noisy. Like a CT, the MRI scanner doesn’t touch you. There are three main things that I go over with the kids.
1) I focus on the importance of them keeping still for their pictures. If they move (and this includes something as small as licking their lips or wiggling their toes), then their pictures could come out blurry. Although the pictures can be up to an hour long, they are lots of smaller pictures that add up to a longer timeframe. So if the kid does really need to itch their face or wiggle their fingers, they can do that inbetween the pictures.
2) Next I talk about the noises. The MRI machine can sound like a construction site or even an alien spaceship, but those are good sounds that mean that the camera is taking pictures. The patient’s big job is to stay still and the camera’s job is to take their pictures. It’s important to tell kids ahead of time about these sounds because they can startle or scare kids if they aren’t prepared.
3) The last thing that I go over with kids is that they can only talk when we talk to them first. Because the machine is noisy, staff won’t be able to hear them if they talk during their pictures. So they will need to wait until staff says something to them before they can say anything. Most hospitals will have headphones and it is usually through these that staff talk to the patients.