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KittenScanner: Turning Scary Medical Scans into Child’s Play
Tool interactively teaches kids how a CT/MRI scanner works
Kitten Scanner Image

The scaled-down model of a Philips CAT (CT) scanner is connected to a flat screen TV and comes with a special set of stuffed animals.​

WellStar Health System’s new pediatric center in Kennesaw is bringing high-quality, comprehensive services to families in a centralized, child-friendly facility.

The center includes the latest and best imaging technology, but with a twist for kids’ ever-growing curiosity. The center will be the first in the area to offer the Philips Ambient Experience, which takes a calming and stress-relieving approach to diagnostic imaging. The Philips unit coaches and relaxes children who are about to undergo a serious medical test, like a CT or MRI, with lighting, animation and audio.

Often, sedatives are required to get young children to lie still enough for a clear image. The Ambient environment is designed to reduce the need for sedation, which could turn an otherwise short test into a day-long ordeal for both children and parents.

“Children don’t know what to expect,” says Lynn Hanks, executive director of Women’s Diagnostic Services, “the center’s design puts interactive play before any procedure to alleviate fears. By reducing fear, kids can more calmly undergo an exam. Calmer kids tend to be more compliant and less active, which often translates into fewer retakes. The Ambient Experience makes a serious occasion much less scary for our youngest patients.”

Prior to entering an imaging suite, children have the opportunity to learn about their upcoming test using the Phillips Ambient Experience ‘KittenScanner’. This is a scaled-down model of a Philips CAT (CT) scanner, which is connected to a flat screen TV and comes with a special set of stuffed animals. Each stuffed animal has its own unique radio frequency identification (RFID) tag inside. When a child places one of the toys in the scanner, its tag activates a video that tells the care story of that particular character through the toy’s ‘medical’ scan.

For example, if the stuffed elephant drank a glass of water that had a goldfish inside, the fish would display on the image, swimming around in the elephant’s tummy. This helps children understand the scanner’s purpose.

“Children need an environment that is kid-friendly – they don’t need a stark office waiting area with chairs and magazines,” said Sharon Woods, a Kennesaw resident and mother of two. “This center is a great benefit because kids will be more comfortable and have a chance to learn.”

Pleasant and familiar images engage kids in the testing environment, and provide the right amount of distraction to ease pre-scan jitters.

“Until now, serious medical testing has taken place in sterile, non-aesthetic environments. The Ambient Experience has positive benefits for patients and staff alike,” said Hanks. “We are pleased to be able to offer to the community.”

To learn more, call (770) 594-PEDS (7337) or visit wellstar.org/forchildren.

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