The Lego Foundation donates Lego MRI scanners to hospitals worldwide

Published on: 28th February 2022

Radiology departments were encouraged to apply for one of 600 Lego MRI scanners to help children cope with having an MRI scan.

What started in 2015 as a passion project for Lego employee Erik Ullerlund Staehr and Odense University Hospital, Denmark, is now being scaled and piloted with new training material for hospital staff.

The team developed the sets as a way to help children navigate the often daunting and intimidating process of having an MRI scan. The sets are designed to help children better understand what the large and complex MRI machine is all about.

Erik Ullerlund Staehr, chemical technician at the Lego Group said: “I’m extremely proud of this project and the positive impact it’s already had. 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.”

The model is designed around the child’s MRI treatment, and is a means for clinicians to facilitate both role play and dialogue so the child feels safe and can build confidence and resilience before having the scan, in turn reducing stress and anxiety. It is also hoped it will help reduce the use of anesthesia for the procedure.

Since the first prototype was made, the radiology department team at Odense University Hospital has used the Lego MRI Scanners as part of its playful learning approach to help over 200 children aged four to nine annually.

Ulla Jensen, of the Department of Radiology at Odense University Hospital Denmark, said: “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. 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.”

Close to 100 hospitals across the world have already benefited from the use of the Lego MRI Scanner thanks to Erik and his dedication. The Lego Foundation has now scaled the project and encouraged hospitals from all over the world to apply for one of the 600 models currently available. Built by Lego volunteers, the models will be shipped completely free of charge to hospitals. Once distributed, the Lego Foundation will generate insights from participating hospitals to continue building evidence-based research and in turn guide potential future projects.

To support the use of Lego MRI Scanners, the Lego Foundation has developed four free training videos to accompany the model. These videos are designed to help medical staff guide children through the process of an MRI scan – and in turn, facilitate their social and emotional learning through play.

Dorthe Feveile Kjerkegaard, play & health specialist at the Lego Foundation, added: “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. The feedback so far has been overwhelming.”

The Lego Foundation is donating 600 models to applicants based in a radiology department at a hospital, with an existing MRI scanning facility for use with children and adolescents. More information is available here.



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