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Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a physically painless diagnostic tool used to identify and monitor the treatment of brain tumors and other diseases. However, MRI scans can be noisy and uncomfortable for restless, anxious, and claustrophobic patients. Keeping children still long enough to obtain quality images without sedation is often challenging. The Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation (PBTF) is working to change that.

Thanks to a $50,000 grant from PBTF, the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital will soon begin offering noise-canceling, video goggles that provide a cinema experience for pediatric patients undergoing an MRI. The state-of-the-art goggles soothe anxious patients by dramatically reducing unexpected loud MRI gradient noise. During a potentially scary MRI scan, familiar sights and sounds are calming. MRI goggles let children watch age-appropriate entertainment or listen to music through their 45-minute to 3-hour scans. This valuable distraction minimizes the anxiety and boredom that makes it difficult for children to remain still.

“MRI video goggles bring comfort to children enduring frequent or prolonged scans that diagnose brain tumors, assess treatment progress, and monitor remission,” says Kathy Riley, Vice President of Family Support at PBTF. “This award supports all three pillars of PBTF’s mission to provide care for families throughout their cancer journey, cure every childhood brain tumor, and help survivors and families thrive. We are grateful for Bo and Sarah Hamilton, whose Starry Night Knoxville event helped make this project possible.”

Because radiologists can only get useful images if children refrain from fidgeting during an MRI session, sedation is often used for young children to complete a scan successfully. Not only do the MRI video goggles improve the patient experience for kids who have frequent or prolonged MRIs, they dramatically reduce the need for sedation and anesthesia. Sedation is stressful for both the child and family because children must fast for eight hours before anesthesia and must remain in the hospital until the sedation wears off. MRI goggles can eliminate both of these steps.

MRI video goggles can also enable two-way communication between patients and radiology technicians running the scan. The MRI technician can communicate via a microphone and project a virtual image of themselves in the goggles so children can hear and ‘see‘ them. The technician comforts patients and makes the experience feel friendlier and less sterile. Because children feel like they have a companion with them, they no longer feel scared and alone, allowing them to remain comfortable and still for prolonged scans.

“Providing a means to more comfortably undergo a scan without sedation is huge! We are thrilled to get these movie goggles at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital,” says Sarah Hamilton, Co-Founder of Starry Night Knoxville, a community fundraising event benefiting PBTF that celebrated five years in fall 2021. “These MRI goggles will not only benefit kids like our son Brody. Any child in our community who has to undergo an MRI will be able to do so more quickly and calmly. It will make this nerve-wracking experience easier for children and families.”

Few challenges compare to the news that your child has a brain tumor. There are tough decisions to make, overwhelming information to take in, and many changes for your family to navigate. PBTF is here to help. Contact us at 800-253-6530, x 306 or [email protected] to learn more about resources like our Starfolio notebook for newly diagnosed families, peer-to-peer mentoring, and our Imaginary Friend Society, which helps answer children’s questions about MRIs, treatment and their cancer journey.

To learn more about how you can help children with brain tumors by participating in Starry Night Knoxville and other events or community fundraisers nationwide, email us today at [email protected] or visit


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A new bill introduced in the New York State Legislature by Senator Shelley B. Mayer and Assembly Member Christopher Burdick will help remove some of the barriers standing between children with cancer and the learning accommodations they need to succeed in school. The Pediatric Cancer Neuropsychological Needs Assessment Act (NY State S.8750) would require insurers to provide coverage for neuropsychological assessments for children diagnosed with cancer that affects brain development or function.

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