ONLY ON 33: Instead of sedation, Akron Children’s uses special goggles to calm kids during MRIs

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When an anesthesiologist examined a nervous 4-year-old patient, she was concerned about sedating her for health reasons

BOARDMAN, Ohio (WYTV) – At Akron Children’s Hospital in Boardman, doctors are using specialized technology to help keep kids calm while getting an MRI.

Normally, children under the age of 7 would have to be sedated before being scanned so they don’t move around. But now, a simple pair of goggles is making an incredible difference.

MRI technicians work their magic keeping patients calm as they prepare them for something most adults are even anxious about.

“It’s a scary process as is,” said Ray Nemeth, of Poland.

But this scary process is being made a little less frightening thanks to a pair of state-of-the-art goggles.

“We’ve had this for about a year now. Last year, I believe we were able to successfully do 18 kids under the age of 7 that typically would have had to of been sedated,” said Ryan Pavlak, radiology supervisor at Akron Children’s Hospital.

One of their youngest patients to use the goggles was only 4 years old at the time, Avery Nemeth, Ray’s daughter.

“We thought she was having seizures so they wanted to do the MRI to make sure that there wasn’t anything in the brain itself. She also had very enlarged tonsils and had some sleep apnea issues. So when we came in for the pre-op, when the anesthesiologist saw her tonsils, she was concerned about sedating her,” said Deanna Nemeth, Avery’s mom.

“So she would have went straight to general anesthesia to have this done, which is a much bigger issue,” Pavlak said.

But, doctors told Avery’s parents they had these special goggles that would allow their daughter to get an MRI without drugs.

“That was just a great perk for that because she got to watch a movie while she was in the MRI machine and she did great with that,” Deanna said.

So great, that it’s now been used as a sedation alternative for many kids. They’re involved from the start, even getting to pick their favorite movie from a huge selection of DVDs.

“Once they pick their movie, they get to lay on the table and simply watch whatever movie they’re going to have. The goggles simply go over their face just like you would put on a pair of sunglasses and then they have some headphones that fit around their ears,” Pavlak said.

Pavlak says the headphones serve two purposes: to allow kids to hear and enjoy their movie while drowning out almost all of the noise the machine makes.

“She watched Frozen and she loved it and actually at one point she giggled during the MRI but she held very still and it was done before we knew it,” Deanna said.

The headphones even come with a microphone that allows the patients to talk with technicians during their 35 to 45 minute long MRI.

“When they press that button, it actually pans to this camera so the patient can actually see us while we’re talking to them,” Pavlak said.

Pavlak says this technology has allowed Akron Children’s to continue to lead the way in pediatric care in the Mahoning Valley.

“For us here at Children’s, we’re more concerned about the safety of the patient, the comfortability of the patient. We’ll deal with the financial burden at another point,” Pavlak said.

As you can imagine, this technology is not cheap. As far as we know, Akron Children’s is the only pediatric facility in Northeast Ohio to use it.

For the Nemeth family, they also got a lot of peace of mind. Avery’s MRI came back negative for seizures. Her mom said doctors diagnosed her with night terrors and since learning that, she is healthy and thriving.

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Mel Robbins Main Area Middle

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