LEGO Foundation Encourages Radiology Departments to Apply for Free LEGO MRI Scanners

By News Release

To help children cope with the uncertainty of having an MRI scan, the LEGO Foundation will donate 600 LEGO MRI scanners to the first 600 eligible applicants based in a hospital radiology department worldwide.

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 collaborate with clinicians and understand what the large and complex MRI machine is all about.

Staehr, a 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 LEGO MRI Scanner is developed with a child-centered focus and learning through play approach, which strengthens children’s skill development. The model is designed around the child’s MRI treatment, and is a means for clinicians to facilitate both role play and dialogue so that the child feels safe and can build confidence and resilience before the actual journey, in turn reducing stress and anxiety. Play motivates the child’s natural curiosity and openness to try new, sometimes difficult, experiences. Because play facilitates a safe and comfortable "training space" for real-life events and consequences, it is a powerful way for children to develop their social and emotional skills. It can also be a part of a range of playful experiences that contribute to clinicians' ambition of reducing the use of anesthesia. 

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

Ulla Jensen from 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.”

In order to create even bigger impact and better grasp of its potential, the LEGO Foundation is now scaling the project and encouraging 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.

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LEGO Foundation Encourages Radiology Departments to Apply for Free LEGO MRI Scanners.  Appl Radiol. 

By News Release| February 24, 2022

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