When should the magnet be used?

The magnet can be used anytime during a seizure, but it is most likely to work when it is used towards the beginning of a seizure. Use the magnet if...

  • You feel a warning or sense that a seizure may be coming.
  • At the start of a seizure.
  • When someone notices that you are having seizure activity or anytime during a seizure.

How do I use the magnet when a seizure occurs?

  • The magnet can be used by the person with seizures or by another person.
  • Swipe the magnet across the generator under the skin (usually on the left side of the chest) for one second – start in the middle of the chest and swipe across the generator, counting ‘one, one thousand’.
  • Wait 1 to 2 minutes (depending on how long the magnet is programmed to deliver stimulation) and if the seizure is still going on, swipe the magnet across the generator again.
  • Don’t hold the magnet over the generator – the magnet will turn the generator off as long as it is held over the device for at least 6 seconds. Removing the magnet will cause the device to go back to its programmed stimulation cycles.
  • Avoid overstimulation- if more than 4 hours of constant stimulation occurs, damage to the vagus nerve could occur.

What should I teach others about using the magnet?

  • People who have the VNS implanted should teach others how and when to use the magnet as part of seizure first aid.
  • Make sure other people know what your seizures look like and how to recognize when you are having a seizure.
  • Ask others to still provide basic care and comfort seizure first aid and make sure you are safe during a seizure.
  • Show them how to use the magnet and let them practice when you aren’t having a seizure.
  • Make sure they know when to use the magnet or if they notice you having a seizure.
  • If the magnet doesn’t work or seizures continue, make sure others know when to call for emergency help. The VNS magnet is NOT an emergency treatment for seizures.


Continue to Using the VNS Magnet to Turn Off Stimulation


Authored By: 
Steven C. Schachter MD
Patty Obsorne Shafer RN, MN
Authored Date: 
Reviewed By: 
Patty Obsorne Shafer RN, MN
Friday, February 14, 2014