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How to Help Children Prepare for a Diagnostic Scan

How to Help Children Prepare for a Diagnostic Scan

Some adults get anxious or scared when they have to get an MRI or CT scan. Now, imagine how that would feel for a child who has zero experience with diagnostic scans.

As a parent, it can be challenging to help your children with all their fears and anxieties. For diagnostic scans, this can prove ten times more difficult. Fortunately, there are several ways you can help your children prepare for it:

1. Look for child-friendly centres

In London and many other cities, open MRI machines are becoming more and more popular. This type of machine allows the patient to look outside and has more open space around the patient. Unlike traditional MRI machines, open MRIs are more suitable for young children, especially those with anxiety or claustrophobia.

As much as possible, look for diagnostic centres that have child-friendly services. There are many that have themed rooms to make machines look fun for children instead of scary, and the staff at these centres are used to dealing with young kids.

2. Teach them about the procedure

It’s best to talk to your children about the procedure at least a few days beforehand. In this way, they know what to expect, and you have enough time to give them the information they need.

Look for ways online on how you can explain the procedure to your child in a way that they will understand. If they ask a question and you don’t know the answer, take note of it and then ask the staff at the facility. Don’t invent an answer or attempt to twist their expectations.

3. Use teaching tools

Some diagnostic scanning procedures involve a lot of new sights and sounds that children are not familiar with. Naturally, these unfamiliar sensory experiences can induce anxiety and fear.

To help prepare your child for the procedure, use audio/visual learning tools that will help them learn what to expect. For example, you can look for MRI videos and sound clips online to familiarise them with the sounds at home. If you are going to a child-friendly diagnostic centre, they may have other learning tools that your child can use before the actual test, such as toys or picture books.


4. Bring a comfort item

On the day of the procedure, don’t forget to bring a comfort item for your child, like a blanket or a stuffed animal. You can also pack books, movies, or music to help them relax during the procedure.

5. Have a mock procedure at home

At least a week before the scan, hold a mock procedure at home to help children gain confidence and remain comfortable during the actual process. If they are going in for an MRI, make a box that will serve as the “MRI machine” and have them lie on the couch while playing MRI sounds. Studies have shown that many children benefit from this simulation training and lessens the need to sedate a child during MRI scans.

No parent wants to watch their child be anxious and fearful during a medical exam. If your child needs a diagnostic scan done, these are the best tips to help you prepare them for it.

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