When a child needs to go through a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan, it can be quite a scary experience. They are loud, tight spaces in hospitals, which many kids already fear. To help combat young patients’ anxiety, the LEGO Foundation has announced it will donate more than 600 LEGO kits to hospitals worldwide. The kits are mini LEGO MRI Scanners that not only help children understand MRIs better, but also feel less nervous during the scans!
A Passion Project
As many good stories do, this one started as a passion project. In 2015, LEGO employee Erik Ullerlund Staehr had a fantastic idea. After seeing that many children struggle with anxiety while going through an MRI, he wondered if LEGOs could help. So, Staehr teamed up with the radiology department team at Odense University Hospital to create a new LEGO set of a MRI machine. The 500-piece set allowed the young patients, usually ages four to 10, to better understand how MRI machines work. As a result, the child feels safer before their scan.
The result of Staehr and the radiologists’ LEGO kit? Far less anxiety! “MRI Scanners make a lot of noise which can be very daunting for children. Our team has found that using the LEGO model has led to more positive, calm experiences for many children,” explained Ulla Jensen, who works for Odense University Hospital’s Department of Radiology. “This also benefits the quality of the MRI scan, which relies on the person being very still for up to an hour to work.”
“I’m extremely proud of this project and the positive impact it’s already had,” Staehr explained. “I’ve seen first-hand how children have responded to these models; feeling more relaxed and turning an often highly stressful experience into a positive, playful one.”
Now, the LEGO Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the LEGO company, is working with Staehr to bring his passion project to hundreds of hospitals…
Free LEGO MRI Scanners for Young Patients
This month, the LEGO Foundation significantly expanded the program by encouraging hospitals all over the globe to apply for one of MRI building kits at no cost to them. When all have been distributed, nearly 700 hospitals will have at least one of the LEGO MRI scanners for younger patients. And, as you might imagine, many hospitals would like one of the kits. Nearly 1,500 hospitals applied for the kit within 24 hours of LEGO opening applications! The lucky hospitals that receive these kits will get much more than a free LEGO set!
The LEGO Foundation has also created four videos that accompany the model-building exercise, in which medical staff explain MRI scans to children. Meanwhile, the kits facilitate dialogues between medical staff and children, ensuring the young patients feel safe and secure during their MRI journey. Hopefully, the LEGO Foundation continues to create these very helpful LEGO MRI scanners!