Cool new eyewear makes MRIs easier for younger patients

Hallee Watters and basketball teammates For Hallee Watters, 15, the MRI wasn’t new.

“It was my first time going all the way into the machine, but I’ve had a MRI on my knee before,” said Watters, a Chrisman High School student who plays basketball and softball.

The new part was a recent Radiology Department addition that aims to help keep patients—especially children and teens—comfortable during what can be an overwhelming procedure. Patients must lie still in the MRI machine, which can be loud, especially in close quarters.  

Because Watters passed out after hurting her head while playing basketball, she needed the more-involved MRI to see the extent of her injuries.

“I am not a big fan of small spaces to begin with, and then I was also worried about getting an IV,” she said. “It’s really loud in the tube, and I was really nervous.”

Enter Radiology’s new tool—special goggles that allow patients to watch movies and calming scenes during an MRI. Carle Center for Philanthropy purchased the goggles with proceeds from the 2016 Carle Golf Open.

“When you put the goggles on, it’s like looking at a 60-inch television from 5 feet away,” said Kelly Oppe, Radiology director. “It is nice to have the opportunity to distract a patient with the goggles.

“The mind plays games with you, and the hour-long procedure can be scary.”

The goggles are more than entertainment, though.

They’re a big relief for patients and their parents.

Goggles to calm and distract patients during MRIs“Our hope with the new goggles is to greatly reduce how often pediatric and even adult patients are sedated,” Oppe said. “We are trying to move away from having to use sedation during MRIs.

“The result is often faster and more accurate exams leading to better and faster diagnoses.”

It worked for Watters, who’s now shifted to softball for spring.

“The goggles made the experience better because it wasn’t just me looking at the machine,” she said. “It was a good way of distracting me.”