Housed in Holland Bloorview and funded entirely by donors, the research MRI unit is a state-of-the-art facility that will enable researchers at the Bloorview Research Institute and around the world to study how the human brain develops in children, youth and adults living with and without disabilities.
The research MRI, a 3T Siemens PRISMA, is capable of various methods of advanced imaging such as functional MR, diffusion tensor imaging and spectroscopy.
The unit leverages the latest design principles and technology to meet the unique needs and preferences of individuals of all abilities undergoing an MRI scan for research purposes.
The unit is the first in Canada that is immersive, customizable, child-friendly and fully accessible.
- Immersive: The technology that is integrated in the MRI scanner room – through state-of-the-art lighting and projections on the walls, ceiling and MRI scanner itself – will create unique environments that appeal to different senses (i.e.: create feeling of being in an ocean or outer space).
- Customizable: Each person can customize the MRI unit to their own personal tastes and needs. They can choose different images or videos that are projected on the walls, ceiling and on the scanner. They can also change the colour of lights that illuminate the back wall with a colour-coded keypad from the doorway. If the study permits, research participants can also watch movies through MRI-friendly goggles or a mirror while getting scanned. Earplugs and MRI-compatible headphones are provided to minimize the noise from the scanner.
- Child-friendly: The entire suite has been tailored to create the most relaxing, calm environment for children before, during and after their MRI scan. A whimsical, interactive mobile, designed by local artist Dennis Lin and children from Holland Bloorview, hangs from the ceiling in the waiting area. The door to the MRI scanner room is made of glass so that parents and caregivers can see their children during the entire procedure.
- Fully accessible: The assessment rooms, waiting area, change room and washroom are designed to be fully accessible – including lifts, change tables and MRI-compatible wheelchairs – to meet the needs of people of all abilities. For instance, the MRI table can be wheeled out of the scanner room into the change room where a person can be positioned on the table to maintain their privacy and dignity.