I had an upright MRI scan on my brain a week ago and the results came back today showing that everything was clear and there was nothing to concern myself about.

Having the privilege of working in Life Science insurance, I felt compelled to highlight my experience, mainly to raise awareness, reiterate how exceptional the medical staff was during the scan, but also to hopefully encourage the Life Science industry to come up with a more comfortable, accessible, innovative solution.

For those that haven’t experienced such a scan, the image provided highlights what is required of you for the scan to begin.  You are often squeezed into the medical device you can see on the image. Unfortunately for me, as a larger gentleman, the squeeze was very tight.  Your head is then clamped into the contraption you see in the image.

One part of the device will be resting on the bridge of your nose.  This can complicate your breathing (and did substantially in my case).  To relax, you are then handed a pillow to rest your arms on your lap and also provided with a ‘Panic Button’.  Further pillows are then placed around your head (if necessary) to prevent your head from moving.  If your head moves during the scanning, the scanned images become blurred because of head movement. Finally, you can put in your earplugs, which are necessary because the booth you are placed in makes a very loud noise that will likely be very unkindly to your ears in general.

Finally, you should take a few deep breaths, and then the scanning starts (will last between 30 minutes and 1 hour).  A TV was immediately switched on to focus the mind and allow you to remain calm. Unfortunately, the TV channel appeared to be set so I was then watching BBC News.

The scanning incorporates a number of separate individual scans that last anywhere between 2 and 6 minutes.  If any one of those scans fails, you remain seated for a retake.  I went through 2 retakes.  I came out of the scanning area trying to stay calm, looking to rehydrate and desperately attempting to stay calm and not panic.  Once I was outside of the Clinic to breathe in fresh air, it still took me a few hours to calm myself down completely.

It has always amazed me how the one part of the human body that controls how we all function, is so difficult to understand.  If one of the most common productive ways of scanning and researching the brain is to have humans go through the above experience, then it’s undoubtedly necessary for the life science industry to continue to strive to find alternative, better options moving forwards.