Determining how to Optimize, Lengthen and Facilitate Imaging in Newborns and children

Magnetic Resonance Imaging is a safe technology for obtaining images of the brain. However, it is difficult to acquire MRI images in young children, because they must remain still during acquisition. MRI is often performed under sedation in clinical contexts. The DOLFIN project aimed to validate a play familiarization procedure for obtaining MRI without sedation or anaesthesia in children 3 to 5 years old.


  • Children 3-5 years
  • 24 typically developing children
  • 13 children with mild TBI


  • Play familiarization
  • Parent questionnaires


  • Ste-Justine Hospital

Familiarization through Play: 4 Steps

1) Youpla’s Story

Comic book created by the ABCs Lab to explain the procedures involved in MRI by following Youpla on his adventures at CHU Sainte-Justine

2) Toy MRI

Wooden play MRI and Youpla puppet with which children can interact during the story

3) MRI sounds & earmuffs

Presentation of earmuffs and clips of MRI sounds to children

4) Child’s choice of video

During the MRI children can watch the video of their choice (DVD)

Key Results

Of 37 participants, 15 controls et 10 mTBI reached the success criterion for MRI acquisition. No group differences in MRI success were found.

Of those who went in the MRI: >


77% of children went in the MRI and completed at least part of the acqusition.

Image Quality

73-100% of the structural images acquired were of good quality.


68-82% of children enjoyed doing the MRI
58%-73 of children would do the MRI again

Jessica Lacombe

“The success of this project allowed us to integrate this familiarization procedure within the KOALA project, a pan-Canadian study studying the effects of concussion in children aged 6 months to 6 years. We have acquired further MRIs without sedation in children 3 to 6 years and collected valuable, high quality data.”

Jessica Lacombe-BarriosCoordonnatrice de recherche du projet DAUFIN