RadZoneKids Prepares Children For Medical Imaging Tests

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Despite the cartoon characters, coloring pages and Nickelodeon-esque font, it’s quickly apparent that RadZoneKids.com is not a typical website for children.

It has a word-search game with “radiation,” “diagnose” and “xray.” There’s a printable coloring page where kids can help a cartoon girl, Daisy, prepare for her MRI test by identifying the metallic jewelry she won’t be able to wear while in lying in the magnetic-resonance-imaging machine.

The website was announced Thursday by NIA Magellan, a subsidiary of Magellan Health Services Inc. of Avon. It’s available to help parents and medical providers prepare children for various diagnostic imaging tests, such as CT scans, MRI scans and X-rays.

RadZoneKids features animated characters in bright colors who undergo medical tests, narrated by a cartoon owl. The website user can click on items to take the animated characters through the process. Children get to choose their own “adventure,” meaning a CT scan or some other test.

This isn’t the first public website NIA Magellan has built to help people understand diagnostic imaging tests. In August 2011, National Imaging Associates — the previous name for NIA Magellan — launched a RadiationCalculator.com. The site allows people to compare the radiation exposure from MRIs, X-rays and CT scans to radiation in Chernobyl. For example, radiation from the Chernobyl disaster is roughly equal to 34 barium enemas or 20 chest-and-lung scans.

“Across the medical profession, doctors seek to minimize radiation exposure in their patients,” NIA Magellan’s chief medical officer, Michael Pentecost, said in a statement. “If we can help create a better test experience for a child, who may be scared and anxious about things they don’t understand, we can hopefully cut down on the number of repeat tests needed.”

In December 2013, the American Academy of Pediatrics reported that the likelihood of a child having an imaging test grew by 34 percent for CT scans and 84 percent for MRI scans between 2001 and 2009. During that period 214,538 imaging tests were performed on 63,116 children.

“When used appropriately, these tests can help diagnose and treat patients in a way other methods cannot,” Pentecost said in a statement. “Ensuring that children know what to expect, and parents and caregivers know what questions to ask, are critical parts of this process, and can help lead to potentially better test quality.”

About Matthew Sturdevant

Full-time staff journalist at The Hartford Courant and magazine freelancer with a master's degree in writing from Dartmouth. My work has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, Taiwan News, The Baltimore Sun and many other news sources. My blog has been referenced by Politico.com, the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Georgetown Law Library and a number of organizations in healthcare and business. Sturdevant’s blog is "a well-written wealth of ideas," said The Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism, (businessjournalism.org, May 18, 2011). I have experience writing for newspapers, magazines, Web sites and blogs as well as shooting and editing video. I made regular appearances on news-talk radio and on the NBC affiliate station in Corpus Christi, Texas. I made occasional appearances on the Fox affiliate in Connecticut promoting Hartford Courant articles.

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