Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) allows important visualization of the brain and central nervous system anatomy and organization. However, unlike electroencephalography (EEG) or functional near infrared spectroscopy, which can be brought to a patient or study participant, MRI remains a hospital or center-based modality. Low magnetic field strength MRI systems, however, offer the potential to extend beyond these traditional hospital and imaging center boundaries. Here we describe the development of a modified cargo van that incorporates a removable low-field permanent magnet MRI system and demonstrate its proof-of-concept. Using phantom scans and in vivo T2-weighted neuroimaging data, we show no significant differences with respect to geometric distortion, signal-to-noise ratio, or tissue segmentation outcomes in data acquired in the mobile system compared to a similar static system in a laboratory setting. These encouraging results show, for the first time, MRI that can be performed at a participant’s home, community center, school, etc. Breaking traditional barriers of access, this mobile approach may enable imaging of patients and participants who have mobility challenges, live long distances from imaging centers, or are otherwise unable to travel to an imaging center or hospital.
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