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Space trip make MRIs easier for children

Having an MRI as a child can be difficult and frightening. The children often have to be sedated in order for them to lie still. But sedation has several negative side-effects and is also very costly. COSMO@­HOME is a digital tool being developed by RISE in the scope of a project together with the universities KU Leuven and RWTH Aachen, as well as Philips. The tool is intended to make it easier for children to undergo an MRI without sedation. (Photo: Philips)

MRI is used to discover, locate or classify certain diseases and injuries that are difficult to see in an X-ray or CT examination. For children who are to undergo an MRI, the examination can be very frightening and disturbing. This is why the children are often sedated. But sedation can be very unpleasant, have negative side-effects and can also affect the child’s development. The child also spends twice as long in hospital on average and a scan with anesthesia costs 9 times more than an awake scan.

“In the examination, the child lies on a cot that is pushed into a tunnel. There, the child has to lie absolutely still during the entire examination, which takes between 20 and 45 minutes and provides 100-300 images,” explains Marie Sjölinder, Project Manager at RISE. “The examination is painless, but the area to be examined is often immobilised, which can be very unpleasant.”


COSMO­@HOME is a development of COSMO, which is already applied at some hospitals. COSMO prepares the child for an MRI with an imaginative and engaging story that is told and done by trained staff at the hospital to calm and strengthen the children for an MRI.

“We now want to prepare the children at home where they feel secure and are together with their parents before it’s time for their MRI at the hospital. COSMO­@HOME is a digital game environment where the child practices to undergo an MRI. The theme is space and the child prepares for a journey to space in a fun way,” explains Marie Sjölinder.

Scalable and cost-effective

In contrast to COSMO, a digital tool like COSMO­@HOME does not require any dedicated hospital staff, but is taken care of at home by the parents and therefore becomes more scalable and cost-effective than the previous solution.

The project began in January 2019 and will run for three years. The goal is to reduce the number of sedations by 20 per cent.

“The project COSMO­@HOME builds on a large degree of tests and feedback from parents and children. Primarily in the beginning of the project. We want the application to be motivating and engaging and the children should want to use it again if it is necessary. An iterative process and a great deal of feedback is therefore crucial to find the right way,” says Marie Sjölinder.


Partners: KU Leuven, RWTH Aachen University och Philips

Financier: EIT Health