Magnetic resonance imaging scans (MRIs) can be a frightening and strange experience for any patient, especially younger ones. A team from King’s College Hospital, based in London, has come up with a medical app for kids getting an MRI to help ease that anxiety that uses virtual reality.

The My MRI at King’sapp explains the MRI procedure to the child through a virtual reality experience. The medical app is designed to be used with a head-mounted VR setup, such as Google Cardboard or Samsung Gear VR, but it also can be used (with slightly less immersion) on a tablet or smartphone by itself. It provides basically a first-person view of what to expect, without actually going through the procedure.

Through the My MRI app, the patient is presented with a 360 degree, realistic virtual reality view of what is taking place, with a radiographer providing an explanation of each step from during the procedure through scan completion. This helps prepare the patient with a better understanding of what the actual MRI procedure is like and essentially what it will feel like on the day of the actual scan.

Young patients can also use the app to practice ahead of time remaining still as if they were in the real procedure. Realistic features such as the noises and sound effects that also occur during the MRI scan are incorporated into the VR experience so they are well aware of what to expect. Through the immersive and practical experience, kids can be prepared in advance, ideally lowering anxiety and stress levels on the day of the actual event.