MRI training helps kids avoid anesthesia

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by KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on September 3, 2013 at 4:39 PM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 3 at 5:55 PM

Getting an MRI can be scary and uncomfortable, especially if you're claustrophobic.

Sedation is an option and is often used for children, but there's growing concern about the effects of general anesthesia on developing brains.

A new program eliminates those risks by training kids for drug-free MRIs.

For an MRI, there are rules. Christian Welch is a master of the procedure.

"I walk in the room, I go on the table, the table rises, I go in the machine and I stay very still," he said.

Welch knows there isn't wiggle room, but he's a spontaneous roller. That sort of behavior is why children are often put under anesthesia for MRIs.

"There are always risks with anesthesia and I'm a nurse and I know that very well," said Melody Welch, Christian Welch's mother.

The most serious risks are brain damage and death. Doctors say the risks are very rare, but Melody Christian was concerned enough to sign her son up for Woldson Children's Hospital's new "MR-I Am Ready" program.

"Our strategy was just to help kids feel prepared and so in that way they feel in control," said Laura Merriem McCalvin, a Child Life Specialist at Wolfson Children's Hospital.

Using pictures and video, McCalvin introduces kids to the MRI. She explains what it is, what it does and what it sounds like.

Kids practice lying still inside a play tunnel, listening to the loud sounds the machine makes and thinking about what makes them happy.

"We plan what they're going to think about while they're in there, so they have a job to do," McCalvin said.

"They have great imaginations so he just laid there very still and thought about a million things," said Melody Welch.

And Christian Welch stayed picture perfect.

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