LEGO® MRI Scanner Educational Material

To support the use of the LEGO MRI Scanner, we've developed a programme that guides hospital staff to use the model in a playful way, reducing anxiety and building children's resilience

The LEGO® MRI Scanner

MRI scans can be a very scary experience - especially for children. Can a LEGO model ease anxiety?

Find out more

What to find on this page

  1. How to use the model and facilitate the dialogue with the child
  2. How the LEGO MRI Scanner can help the child​
  3. How play can help​ strengthen children's coping skills
  4. The story behind the LEGO MRI Scanner​
  5. Contact 
"MRI scans can be scary, anxiety-inducing experiences for all of us, but especially so for children. "
Dorthe Feveile Kjerkegaard, Play and Health Specialist at the LEGO Foundation

1. How to use the model and facilitate the dialogue with the child

​The model MRI scanners are designed to be used as an aid, ahead of children having an MRI. Medical staff can introduce the LEGO MRI scanner and mini figures to children and allow them to navigate the experience they are about to go through when they have a scan. It helps children to understand the process and take away some of the uncertainty.

Our hope with the model and the educational material around it, is that it will make MRI examinations less stressful for children, and help build their resilience and coping strategies in a playful way.

An adult’s role is to facilitate quality into the play that supports children’s understanding of knowledge and concepts. ​A good facilitator inspires children, creates space and time for activities, and connects the child´s role and competences into new challenges. The central role is that children must be supported rather than directed in order to activate their sense of agency. 

Below you will find the Education Program with short videos that will guide you in how to use the model and how to facilitate a good dialogue and playful experience with the child.

2. How can the LEGO MRI Scanner help children?

"Through play, by using the model LEGO MRI Scanners, we’ve been able to show children the process, prepare them for what is to come and what they need to do, and in turn, help make the unknown, familiar"
Dorthe Feveile Kjerkegaard, Play and Health Specialist at the LEGO Foundation

The LEGO MRI Scanner can help clinicians to facilitate the dialogue with the child, making the child feel safer and more confident in the situation, reducing stress and anxiety. It familiarizes the child with the process that is about to happen and provides room to identify how they can participate throughout the scan. The playful approach can also help reduce the use of anaesthesia.

Play is a natural way for children to develop their social and emotional skills. It motivates their natural curiosity and opens them to new experiences and engage with others.

Children must experience agency and be supported, rather than directed and instructed. ​It’s important that they are given a choice about what to engage with and how to engage with it.

3. How play can help strengthen children's coping skills

Play activities will strengthen the child’s coping skills:

Physical skills: Spatial understanding and how to be inside small rooms

Emotional skills Daring to and being able to express feelings and to identify potential stressful situations

Cognitive skills: Learning to make procedures recognisable and safe that support the child’s self-efficacy and the ability to select a solution or alternative solution that matters to the child’s journey

Creative skills: Empowered to come up with ideas and alternative coping strategies in potential critical situations to overcome the procedure 

Social skills: Developing a trusting relationship between staff and child that establishes a shared understanding when solving coping strategies together

4. The story behind the LEGO MRI Scanner

In 2015 Mette Sorang Kjær, Ulla Jensen and team at Odense University Hospital and LEGO Volunteer Erik Ullerlund Staehr created a LEGO model of a MRI scanner to could help medical staff prepare children for MRI examinations in Denmark. The aim was to reduce the children´s anxiety and to make their experience more playful and less scary. The MRI model is now being built on a volunteer basis by LEGO employees across the world to distribute to their local hospitals. 

Almost at the same time Benjamin H. Taragin, MD - a pediatric radiologist at University Radiology Group, Rutgers University, NJ, USA as well as Assuta Hospital Ashdod, Israel, Erik Ranschaert, a radiologist and advisor in AI for radiology (Belgium), and LEGO Certified Professional Dirk Denoyelle Belgium created a similar LEGO MRI model which also has been distributed and sold around the world from 2014-2016. Their model was originally developed in conjunction with the Society of Pediatric Radiology and Children's hospital at Montefiore. Rok Zgalin Kobe, Senior Designer at the LEGO Group has been spearheading the model design and functionality adjustments of the LEGO MRI Scanner. 

Fortunately, they have now all joined forces with Erik Ullerlund Staehr and the LEGO Foundation through a shared ambition to positively impact the lives of many more children by bringing the LEGO MRI Scanner and training material to more hospitals around the world. And until now the model has been used at hospitals in Denmark, Norway, USA, China and the UK.

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