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Publication Date: 2015-May-06
Document File: 6 page(s) / 81K

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A technique for motivating patients to remain still during lengthy medical imaging procedures is disclosed. In addition to providing motivation, the technique provides effective means of communicating with a technologist and helps the patients to remain alert and interested during imaging procedures. The technique includes an eye tracking interface technology for patient interaction and communication, while remaining otherwise motionless and alert. The eye tracking interface includes an eye tracking system, a computer processing equipment, a video game application and a video monitor. The eye tracking system follows and interprets gaze of the patient for communication with the technologist and playing the video game. The video game application includes a display that provides score and information to the patient about achieving an award by scoring higher for remaining motionless during play. The video game may also be used to inform the patient about motion that he or she is making in order to help the patient remain motionless.

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The present disclosure relates generally to medical imaging procedures and more particularly to a technique for motivating patients to remain still during lengthy medical imaging procedures.                                                           

Some medical imaging procedures are very lengthy. Patients undergoing such lengthy imaging procedures are required to remain motionless in order to obtain quality images. However, patients tend to move due to boredom, discomfort, or anxiety. Sometimes patients may even fall asleep. Sleep provides an inconsistent breathing pattern, which can compromise imaging results. Therefore, keeping patients motivated, comfortable and mitigating their anxiety such that patient remains motionless during lengthy imaging procedures, is important.  

Effective communication between patient and technologist mitigates anxiety of patients and also helps in making the patient comfortable. However, numerous imaging technologies present various limitations when combined with communication technologies. For example, in a magnetic resonance (MR) procedure, powerful magnetic fields create an environment that is extremely unfriendly to any sort of metal. MR is not friendly to audio system due to high background noise.

A conventional technique for communicating with a patient placed in a magnet bore of the MR system employs an alarm ball. Patients are given an alarm ball to squeeze whenever they need attention. The patient may need attention, for example, if the patient needs to speak to an investigator in between sequences, or if the patient needs to come out of the bore immediately, or if something is hurting the patient. Although patients are given instructions regarding time and condition in which they require to squeeze the alarm ball, patients sometimes squeeze the ball in order to ask questions that are essentially trivial. Additionally, anxiety frequently accompanies the MR procedure. As a result, patients ask to stop the scanning procedure. Scanners cannot be paused and then restarted from the point at which the scanners are paused.  If a scan is stopped, the scan requires repetition in its entirety. A means of communication is required between the technologist and the patient, such that, the technologist is able to reassure the patient without stopping the scan.

Another conventional employs an audio communication via a microphone, which allows the patient to speak directly to the technologist.  However, speaking poses problems due to patient body movement during speaking along with movement of mouth of the patient. Also, shielding is required to be able to hear patient and technologist voice over background noise generated during a scan In addition, technologists may not want patients to speak to them directly during a procedure. Another audio-based communication tech...