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Caregiver calms teen’s MRI fears

June 3, 2022 | Everyday Moments

Caregiver calms teen’s MRI fears

Tech’s creative approach to patient care helps reduce the anxiety and prepare a nervous teen for their MRI.

Katie Helsing, an MRI technologist at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend in Springfield, Oregon, used her creativity and influence to ease the anxiety of a teenage boy who was getting a magnetic resonance image (MRI). 

The teenage pediatric patient had arrived for an MRI without anyone to assist, as his parents and care providers felt he would be fine on his own. 

When Katie explained the MRI process, the young patient froze. He wouldn’t move to the table out of his wheelchair and declined the offer to have his parents join him. The more Katie tried to encourage the young man toward the MRI table, the more he “shut down.” 

Katie realized she needed a new approach to help the patient feel comfortable enough to get the MRI. She got down to eye level with the patient to better understand his concerns. The teen admitted to being nervous about the noise and wanted to know exactly what to expect. 

A sneak peek

While the young man sat next to her at the console in the room next to the MRI, Katie ran test sequences little by little to give him a sense of the volume and frequency of the sound of the exam. She then gave him hearing protection and took him into the MRI room. 

Once he heard the practice sequences and knew that the sounds would be similar to what he’d experience during his real exam, the teen agreed to give the MRI a try. Katie ran a couple of tests and checked on how he was doing. Each time the patient would give an enthusiastic “thumbs up” to continue with his actual MRI. 

Katie’s calm and creative approach made a big difference in creating a positive experience for her patient and the confidence they needed to get their MRI.