MRI practice videos

As mentioned in the previous section, one way to overcome your anxiety /fear of having an MRI scan is to practice at home. The purpose of the practice sessions is not to fully replicate the MRI experience at home, as this is not possible. Rather, it’s about practising keeping your mind busy. If you can keep your mind busy during your MRI scan, you will be able to ignore negative thoughts that may arise.

At the end of this webpage, you will find practice videos. These videos have MRI sounds and are of different lengths. The idea is to lie still, close your eyes, and listen to the MRI sounds, imagining that you are in the scanner. As you are in this state, you will find your mind jumping all over the place with possibly some anxiety kicking in. As this happens, you can use the various methods discussed before to keep your mind busy.

How to use the practice videos

To do a practice session, find a reasonably quiet place in your home where you can lie flat. Perhaps you can use a sofa or your bed.

Ask those around you not to disturb you.

You will need to choose a video of appropriate duration. I have made practice videos of various durations (see below) so that you can start with a short time, and build up your practice duration to equal roughly how long your actual scan will take. If you do not know how long your MRI scan will take, ask the staff at the place you are going to have your scan.

Once you have chosen a video of appropriate length, you will need to adjust the sound volume. Start the video so that you can hear the MRI sounds and adjust the volume to a level you find comfortable. Play it as loud as you would listen to music playing in the background in your home.

While the MRI scanner produces loud sounds, you will be given ear protection that will muffle the sound to some extent. So when you use the practice videos, please do not play them too loudly as that can unnecessarily make the experience irritating. In the beginning, you might want to play the sounds very softly, and in future practice sessions, when you are more accustomed to the sounds, play it a bit louder.

It is impossible to perfectly mimic the loudness that you will hear on the day of your MRI scan. The purpose of the sounds is to just help you to imagine that you are in an MRI scanner. 

If you use headphones to not disturb others around you, take extra care to make sure the volume is very low and comfortable.

Now that you have adjusted the volume, return the video to the start position. 

You are ready for your practice session! Lie down, keep your body straight and play the video from the start position. Gently close your eyes and imagine that you are in the scanner. Lie as motionless as you can for the whole duration of the scan. At the end of the scan, I will announce that the scan is over. 

As you lie there with your eyes closed, listening to MRI sounds, your mind will go all over the place. This is now the time to practice all the various methods of keeping your mind busy. Try as much as possible to do this till the practice scan ends.

When you first listen to MRI sounds, you may get alarmed. Do not worry, you will soon get used to it once you start practising. Please note that the sounds you hear on your MRI scan may well be different to the ones you hear on these videos that I made. There are a variety of MRI scanner models, each having its unique sounds. Also, the MRI scanner scans things differently according to what part of the body is being looked at etc. So there is a chance that your actual MRI scan sounds may be more “pleasant” than the one you practice with! The purpose of these videos is to give you an approximate experience. 

The sounds that the MRI scanner makes are very varied. Sometimes there can even be quiet periods, where the scanner is adjusting itself. Remember, unless you are told to, do not move during the quiet periods. During the quiet periods, the MRI scanner is making important adjustments, which still require you to be still. In the practice videos, I will tell you when the scan is over, so do not move till then. 

When you have your real MRI scan, the MRI staff will often communicate with you. They may ask how you are feeling and may tell you information about time, e.g. “10 minutes left” or “the next scan sequence will last 3 minutes”. At times, depending on what part of the body is being scanned, they may even ask you to very briefly stop breathing to help them get clear pictures. To keep things simple, I will only talk to you at the beginning and end of the practice session. 

Interestingly, sometimes people can become too relaxed during MRI scans, and move because of boredom. Imagine, from being anxious about the MRI scanner, you can even end up being bored of it!

Once you get comfortable with your practice sessions, you may want to mimic the MRI scanner “tunnel” by lying on the floor, with your head under a chair, or perhaps your body under a table. Some beds may be high enough for you to lie under it. Please make sure to use your common sense and not injure yourself!

Below are the MRI scanner practice videos that I have made. They are of various lengths, going up to 30 minutes. Start with the short ones, and slowly, over days go up in length. If you need to practice longer than 30 minutes, please play an appropriate shorter video after the 30-minute video. 

Just to recap:

  • Start with a short video first, built up duration very slowly over days.
  • Make sure that the volume is not loud enough to be uncomfortable and intimidating. This is even more important if you choose to use headphones.
  • Lie as motionless as you can.
  • Keep your eyes gently closed
  • The most important thing is to practice the various methods you can use to keep your mind busy. 
  • This kind of practice is not for everyone. If you find that it is not decreasing your anxiety over time, or perhaps increasing it, please stop immediately. You may well be better off not practising and may find the scan ok without practice.

Below are the MRI sound practice videos. However, if you don’t want to play the videos now, and instead want to explore the other topics please press “NEXT” below. 

Five minute practice video

Ten minute practice video

Fifteen minute practice video

Twenty minute practice video

Twenty five minute practice video

Thirty minute practice video

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