Preparing children at home for MR scanning with a cosmonautic virtual reality fairy tale

COSMO@HOME is developing an app for children to prepare at home for upcoming MRI scans, so they won’t need sedation during the actual scan. The app will contain different personalised modules, including games that teach children to lay still or breath deeply, a virtual reality version of a scan and information for parents. The aim is to reduce sedation of children taking MRIs by 20%.


Sedating children for MRIs increases hospital time and costs, and can pose health risks. KU Leuven has successfully addressed this challenge with a novel preparation protocol to immerse children in a fantasy story told in person by a trained staff member. The aim of this project is to eliminate the need for specially trained staff and to scale up the COSMO protocol by creating a COSMO app that can be used by the children and their parents at home.


KU Leuven will lead the project and head the pilot and field study. Philips will be involved with prototype development and testing of the app, and will take care of business development. RISE will do the app development and will help with developing features that motivate usage among different age groups. RWTH is responsible for modelling and implementing the virtual reality (VR) environment, mimicking the hospital, MR unit and scan sessions.

The project

The current standard clinical practice in most hospitals is to sedate young children when they need to undergo a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan, as a way to avoid anxiety, or errors in the scan caused by movement. The goal of the COSMO@HOME project is to create a smartphone app that lets children and their parents prepare at home for an upcoming scan. This app will consist of videos, training exercises, and virtual reality (VR) modules that allow users to “walk around” the MR unit of the hospital they will visit and experience a virtual scan in the familiar setting of their own home.

The videos and training exercises will be based on the existing COSMO protocol (developed by KU Leuven) and the FIT-for-MRI-framework (Familiarize, Inform and Train) developed by Philips. The COSMO-app will be tested in three Belgian hospitals during a field trial, to evaluate its effectiveness, efficiency and clinical impact. RISE and RWTH will be the technical partners.

Hospitals, radiology and pediatric departments are the intended customers, as the app can improve their workflow and reduce hospital costs. We anticipate being able to reduce the need for sedation to a large extent, which would save Europe millions a year in health care costs.


COSMO@HOME brings added value to:

  • Pediatric patients and their parents, by reducing potential health risks of sedation and reducing waiting times and the length of hospital-stays.
  • Hospitals, by reducing costs and improving patient/staff satisfaction.
  • Society and payers, by reducing healthcare costs.
Why this is an EIT Health project

This project aligns with the EIT Health Focus Area of “Bringing Care Home” because it allows children to prepare for the frightening experience of an MRI scan in their homes, a safe space, in the presence of their parents. It is also in keeping with the Focus Area of “Improving Care Pathways” because it promises to reduce the need for potentially risky sedation for children.

Dr. Babs Weyn
| Innovation Manager | K.U. Leuven
Dr. Sanne Nauts
| Scientist Philips Electronics | Nederland B.V.