Virtual reality helps ease U.K. patients during MRI exams

Researchers at National Health Service (NHS) Highland in Scotland are developing a virtual reality program to help patients grow accustomed to MRI before undergoing an exam, according to a report by the Press and Journal.

"The claustrophobic and noisy environment of MRI can be difficult for some patients to tolerate," said Dr. Jonathan Ashmore, clinical scientist at NHS Highland, in a statement. "This can lead to decreased image quality or the scan needing to be stopped, which in turn results in delays to patient care and the need to redo the scan."

One potential solution to this issue may be to have patients wear a virtual reality headset prior to receiving the exam so that they can acclimate to the often-claustrophobic nature of the MRI environment, he said. Indeed, a prior trial at the hospital demonstrated the capacity of virtual reality to improve children's tolerance to an MRI exam.

The current project is being supported by the Health Foundation independent charity as part of its Innovating for Improvement program.

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