When positioning and immobilizing a patient for a radiation therapy treatment, anxieties like claustrophobia can occur when the immobilization is performed with a thermoplastic mask. Here are a couple of measures you can take to prevent this from happening and to make the patient feel as comfortable as possible.
1) Prepare your patient
Obtaining a good result starts with a good preparation. Your patient needs to know exactly what he or she can expect and why the mask is so important: It will help keep them in the same position each time for each treatment session. You can show them a moulded mask as an example and you can show the different moulding steps on a poster. If they know in detail what will happen, it will be less likely they are frightened. Gaining trust and allowing them to ask questions are crucial steps before applying the mask.
2) Help them relax
Talk them through the mask moulding process by helping them to breathe in a relaxed manner. You have to assure them that they can keep on breathing through their nose even with the mask on their face.
The mask feels like a hot wet towel similar to what you receive during a facial treatment in a spa. This can be given as an example so they feel more at ease and know what to expect.
For some patients it helps to meditate or do relaxation exercises. For inspiration, we recommend this article: http://whatisradiationtherapy.com/simulation-details/
3) The Orfit Open Face Hybrid Mask
The Orfit Open Face Mask may become the standard in radiotherapy as it leaves most of the face uncovered, thereby reducing the discomfort and high anxiety experienced by claustrophobic (and other) patients undergoing head and neck Radiation Therapy.
If treating all patients with an Open Face Mask is not yet an option for your Radiation Oncology Department, remember that Orfit Industries offers different versions of almost all masks, leaving either eyes, mouth and/or nose free.
4) Choose the right head support
Orfit has different sizes of head supports available. Choose the one that fits nicely around the patient’s head and neck. If necessary you can use blocks and wedges for additional support. You want to avoid having pressure points at the back of the head or somewhere in the neck.
The more comfortable the patient is feeling, the less he or she will move.