KittenScanner, toy tomograph – Removing the mystery

A visit to the hospital can be frightening for children, especially when they have to undergo a complex examination. The hospital atmosphere is often intimidating and the little ones may get even more scared when faced with huge and mysterious medical devices they do not understand. Computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging tomography scanners are such fear-inducing devices. Even though today they feature a design that is as friendly as possible, in the mind of a child with a vivid imagination, such weird-looking machines can easily turn into huge monsters with a wide-open mouth waiting to devour the little patient whole.

The KittenScanner was developed to alleviate the fear and anxiety of children when undergoing MRT or CT examinations. With this miniature scanner, children can playfully learn about what will happen to them during an examination. A child first chooses a toy figure, then puts it on the table and pushes it through the opening of the scanner. An RFID tag in the figure activates a screen showing an imaginary scan of the figure’s insides. A short child-oriented story is told about what is happening, what can be seen and why the examination is necessary. For example, the story of the elephant that drank some water with fish in it without noticing. The child can first see how the fish are still swimming around merrily in the elephant’s tummy and then learns in a short animation how this could have happened in the first place.

While playing with the KittenScanner, children are shown what they are about to undergo so they feel more in control. They are shown how the scanner works, focus on having fun and are distracted from fear and anxiety. The little patients may even get curious about what there is to discover inside their own bodies. A direct result of this kind of play examination is that less sedative has to be used during the process to achieve a clear scan image, because when the children are less scared, they also lie still in the scanner. The KittenScanner thus distracts them from the wait and triggers their natural curiosity in order to help alleviate their fear of the unknown and prepare them for the actual procedure.

Posted on 30.03.2017

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