keeping kids still during health exam

Keeping Kids Still During Exams

Nothing is more frightening for a parent than to have a sick child, especially if your child has to go through a series of tests. For the radiologic technologist who performs medical imaging examinations, nothing is more important than delivering the best patient care, and this means producing the highest quality medical images of your child. Increasingly,

Medical imaging procedures such as x-ray examinations, computed tomography (CT) scans or magnetic resonance (MR) imaging are key to making a diagnosis and beginning treatment. Radiologist technologists are skilled medical professionals who have specialized education in the areas of radiation protection and medical imaging positioning and procedures. Before the exam, the radiologist technologist will explain the procedure to your child if he or she is old enough to understand and will answer any questions you might have. One important thing your child must understand is that he or she can’t move during the procedure. Most medical imaging examinations require that the patient hold completely still during the imaging process. Any movement can cause the image to be blurred, making it difficult for the radiologist (a physician who specializes in interpreting medical images) to review the image.

Common Immobilization Techniques

Radiologic technologists use a variety of age-appropriate methods to immobilize or help your child hold still. The following techniques are very common and will not harm your child.



Although this device looks funny, it is one of the best methods to help children remain in a still, upright position for chest x-ray exams. The child sits on a small, adjustable seat and two plastic supports fit snugly around his or her sides, keeping the arms raised. An adult may help hold the arms above the child’s head.

Velcro Straps

Often, bands of Velcro are used not only to immobilize your child’s body, but also to prevent him or her from rolling off the table. The straps are attached to the table or a board and drawn snugly over the body. Tape and bandages also may be used to keep a body part still.


Very young children may be wrapped tightly in a sheet to keep them from wiggling. Although some children don’t like the feeling of being confined, the sheet provides warmth, and infants may fall asleep while swaddled.


Long sandbags may be used to keep a child’s arms or legs in one place. The weight of the sandbag keeps the body part still and reminds your child not to move.

Holding Techniques

At times, the radiologist technologist or other staff members may immobilize your child or hold a limb or body part in the correct position. Sometimes sponges are used to hold the child steady and avoid blocking the radiation beam. You may be asked to help hold your child, and the technologist will give you specific instructions on how best to do this.