King’s College Hospital trials Virtual Reality MRI scanner app to help patients

Thursday 16 February 2017

Researcher and clinicians at king's College Hospital in London are trialling a Virtual Reality (VR) app to help children due to undergo an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging).

Easily one of the most daunting procedure facing anyone let alone children, having an MRI is often cited as their number one fear of any treatment.

The app will guide the VR wearer through arriving at the hospital, preparation for the procedure and a first-person perspective of what it's like to experience the noisy and often claustrophobic environment of an MRI machine

Reported in the Evening Standard newspaper today 10-year-old MRI 'veteran' Matthew Down, who has annual MRI scans after brain fluid surgery in 2014, said: “The first time I was nervous because the machine was big and it was very loud. I remember thinking to myself, 'What's going on?'

“Having the VR app lets you look around so you get to see your surroundings and experience it before you actually have the scan. I think it will calm children down if they're getting a bit worked up.

"It's a good way for them to get ready and prepare for it.”

The app is free to download for Android and iOS and was developed by MRI physicist Jonathan Ashmore who is based at King's and technologist Jerome Di Pietro based at King's College London.

Quoted in the paper Dr Ashmore said: If we can show kids this app, hopefully it won't be such a fearful experience. Some are so anxious of having a scan they get in there, they are crying and sometimes need sedating.

"We hope they can sit down with a play specialist, go through the app and discuss their anxieties.”