Resuming MEG research

Anybody wishing to resume operating the MEG should read this post fully and carefully. I’ve collected below most of the directives that were approved in the BIC and MEG research ramp-up applications.

  1. The PI must follow the procedure for research ramp-up at The Neuro. This information was distributed to PIs previously and requires filling an application form and submitting a signed departmental head approval form in Nagano, the ethics review board system. PIs can contact me for details or questions regarding this process.

  2. Once a project is approved, it will be available again for booking on our online schedule. Blocks of 30 minutes will be blocked between all participants such that only one team and one participant per facility are on site at a time.

  3. BIC staff and research team members must be aware of and follow the procedures in place at The Neuro and McGill guidelines. They must affirm having reviewed these via this form. A few key points to remember:

    • Only work that cannot be performed remotely is allowed on site.
    • Before going to The Neuro, staff and students must do a self-evaluation. [The COVID-19 screening form in Minerva, under the Personal menu, is no longer required as of 2021-11-04].
    • On arrival, they must present their McGill ID at the L3 entrance. Access will be denied if the person does not have their ID. A disposable mask will be provided (no homemade masks) and must be worn at all times in common spaces and when near others. The mask should be changed every 4 hours or when wet.
    • After leaving The Neuro, they should fill the Neuro Access Log.
  4. Only one research team member is allowed to enter the MEG lab with the participant if the MEG Unit manager is needed during the session. If presence of the MEG Unit manager is not required, a second team member is allowed in the lab while maintaining a 2-m distance with the other team member and the participant. This implies only one team member may prep the participant. 2-m signs are affixed to the operating desk, at the MEG acquisition station and the stimulus computer, to encourage observation of sufficient distancing. Tape will also be placed on the floor to delineate the 2-m radius around the participant preparation chair.

  5. The MEG lab fob-controlled door should be kept closed at all times.

  6. The day before an imaging session , the research group scanning a subject will be responsible for screening the subject using the questionnaire in the next post. If a positive answer is given to any symptom or contact with an infected person in the last 2 weeks, the research team must contact the BIC’s administrative staff (Judith Barany, Stacey Peixoto), responsible for booking/cancelling scanning time periods in the calendar, as well as the technician associated to the imaging Unit as soon as possible to cancel the scan. No last-minute cancellation fee will be enforced. Otherwise, the research team must still confirm with the BIC administrative staff that the screening test was carried out and that the result was negative, before 4 pm.

  7. The day of the recording , only one person (other than the research team) is allowed to accompany the participant, if needed.

  8. Again, the research team will need to contact the participant and carry out the COVID-19 screening, and confirm with the BIC administrative staff that the result was negative.

  9. If the participant have come with their own means of transportation, they will be asked to wait in the vehicle until called by the research team or technician, informing them that they are allowed to come inside The Neuro for the scan.

  10. The participant (and accompanying person, if needed) will be met upon arrival at the North Wing L3 entrance of The Neuro, by a member of the research team.

  11. Upon entrance, each participant will be immediately given a disposable mask (Level 1) that they must keep on at all times and will be asked to use hand sanitizer. The instructions for the proper use of the mask will be communicated to them.

  12. Once more, they will have to answer the screening questionnaire. If still negative for symptoms or contact, they will be escorted to the MEG suite using the L3 elevators, while following the signage throughout The Neuro.

  13. When arriving at the MEG suite , the accompanying person may wait at the table near the entrance for the duration of the session. The waiting area near the MRI is reserved for MRI use. All are encouraged to wash their hands at the sink near the entrance when entering and before leaving the lab. The team member assigned to prep the participant leads them to the preparation chair, while the optional second team member (if the MEG Unit manager is not present) may sit at the stimulus workstation, remaining outside the marked prep area.

  14. During participant preparation, close contact is required to measure head size and affix markers and electrodes. Adequate protection equipment will be worn during these procedures (mask and either goggles or full-face visor) and hands washed before and after any participant contact (gloves are not required).

  15. Once the participant is brought into the MEG shielded room and ready to be placed inside the MEG helmet, their mask can either be removed for the duration of the recording, or exchanged for a mask that has had its metal strip removed (available in the MEG lab), due to magnetic interference from the metal. This should be at the discretion of the participant, considering their comfort and safety concerns. This should be done immediately before placing the participant inside the MEG helmet, while the team member is still wearing the additional protective equipment as described for close patient contact. During most of the recording time, the participant is alone in the MEG shielded room, which is ventilated separately from the rest of the lab.

  16. If a participant, researcher, trainee or any BIC staff member experience onset of COVID-19 symptoms during a MEG session, the procedure will be terminated immediately. The participant will be sent home with instructions to call the Santé Montréal COVID-19 hotline at 514-644-4545. In coordination with the MEG Unit manager, the disinfection procedures will be completed and the COVID-19 Hotline (1-877-644-4545) contacted for further guidance (as per McGill directives). A restricted access sign will be placed on the door or in the area that requires cleaning.

  17. Once the session is completed , participants are escorted back to the exit by a research team member.

  18. Proceed with disinfection of all devices and touched surfaces, unless previously agreed that it will be performed by the MEG Unit manager. See details in the 3rd post below.

COVID-19 Screening Questions

  1. In the last 7 days, have you had a new onset of one or more of the following symptoms?

    • Fever
    • Cough
    • Sore throat
    • Diarrhea
    • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
    • Nasal congestion & runny nose
  2. In the last 14 days, did you have contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19?

MEG Suite Disinfecting Procedure

Clean electrode caps and electrodes with dish soap, and head coils with alcohol as usual. In addition, caps and electrodes can be wiped with alcohol. Electrode and head coil wires can be wiped with disinfecting wipes, but avoid on electrode contacts.

Wipe down all touched surfaces and devices with disinfecting wipes, with extra attention to things that come in contact with the participant such as the MEG helmet, digitization wand and googles, and response pads.

Shielded room:

  • Door wheel and handle (both sides),
  • MEG helmet,
  • MEG chair,
  • projector screen knobs and mirror knobs,
  • response pads,
  • electrode and head coil connector boxes and table.

Participant prep area:

  • Chair and cart,
  • digitizer wand and receiver (goggles),
  • head markers and electrodes,
  • counters,
  • cabinet handles.

Acquisition desk:

  • Desk surface,
  • chair armrests,
  • Keybords & mice.

Sink area, if used to wash participant hair after EEG.