What's most arresting about the photo of the Lego MRI is how accurate the model is for a toy. A quick glance immediately registers what it is. That Lego would invest in creating a model of something that is not for sale to the general public is even more surprising. Yet that is exactly what they have done as Lego employees worldwide volunteer to personally build models of an MRI suite made with Legos and donate them to the radiology departments of their local hospitals. All in the hope of reducing a young child's anxiety about the scan they are about to receive.
MRI is an invaluable diagnostic tool that has become more common precisely because of what the procedure can do to improve healthcare outcomes. But, as noted in the most recent issue of the Journal of the American College Radiology, MRI can produce stress and anxiety in patients of all ages. Such stress can be most acute with pediatric patients.
Recognizing that children are encountering this procedure and how intimidating an MRI scan can be for a small person in an unfamiliar environment likely came down to one person with a big idea to normalize this through play. Lego is not only demonstrating they are open to developing toys that serve a greater purpose than play, but they will do so on a small scale and not for profit.
Many of us remember the game Operation which debuted in 1965 and normalized the idea of surgical procedures. As healthcare tools and medical procedures evolve and become more accessible to more people around the world, this idea of using toys to normalize such experiences will help to reduce fear for both children and their parents.
Kudos to those at Lego who recognize the power of toys to teach and soothe children through play!