Tuesday, July 5, 2022
NewsAberdeen MRI scanner has traditional Scots language added for patients

Aberdeen MRI scanner has traditional Scots language added for patients

PATIENTS with an MRI appointment in Aberdeen will now be able to hear instructions in a familiar language, following a technology overhaul.

The University of Aberdeen‘s Phillips MRI scanner has recently had a major £1.2 million upgrade.

The scanner, based within the Lilian Sutton Building, was pre-programmed with 17 languages including English, Spanish, French, Russian, Arabic and Mandarin.

However, in collaboration with the University’s Elphinstone Institute, the scanner can now issue instructions in Scots, more specifically East Scots, or Doric as it is known by many.

Control room of UoA MRI scanner
The MRI scanner is used to scan some of the more complex cases being treated on the NHS.        (C) University of Aberdeen

Nearly 50% of Aberdeenshire residents identify as Scots speakers.

In Moray, 45% of residents identify as Scots speakers and in Aberdeen City the figure is 36%, which is still higher than the Scottish average of 30%.

As well as this language addition, the scanner upgrade boasts major benefits of clearer imaging, more accurate diagnosis and a 30% faster operating speed.

The refurbishment comes on the 40th anniversary of the first ever full-body MRI scanner, built by researchers at the University of Aberdeen in 1980.

The MRI scanner is the most advanced machine in the north of Scotland and has contributed to vital research into conditions such as Alzheimer’s.

Dr Gordon Waiter, a senior lecturer and brain imaging expert at the University of Aberdeen said he hoped the upgrade might make some patients feel more comfortable in what can be a daunting environment.

He said: “The option to hear instructions in different languages is only a small part of this major overhaul which will bring massive benefits to patients across the North of Scotland.

“We’re aware that coming for an MRI scan can be unnerving, so anything that makes the experience more relaxing is welcome.

“I am proud of our distinct dialect of Scots and it’s great that advances in technology allow us to offer this degree of flexibility, whether it is for people who speak Doric, or indeed any of the other 17 languages available.”

Dr Gordon Waiter - Director of UoA Biomedical Imaging Centre
Dr Gordon Waiter has said the technology will bring “massive benefits” to patients.                      (C) University of Aberdeen

Recent research by Dr Thomas McKean from the University’s Elphinstone Institute has explored how those with dementia experience second language attrition, eventually leaving them best able to communicate in their native tongue which in north-east Scotland is often Doric.

Dr McKean said: “People living with dementia find comfort in the familiar, so hearing our mother tongue in a stressful medical situation can only be a benefit, helping to relax patients at a difficult time.”

The phrases were recorded by Simon Gall, Public Engagement Officer with the Institute, who has seen this phenomenon first-hand.

He said: “My grandmother, a Doric speaker who has dementia, struggles now with communication in English, but when carers and medical professionals use Scots, she is much more responsive.

“Of course not everyone that comes for an MRI scan will be in this situation, but the sound of Doric instructions may invoke positive feelings in those who hear them.

“It’s great that Dr Waiteer decided to make use of the facility to allow us to record instructions in Doric and if my voice can put even one person at ease, I am delighted.”

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