When can the VNS be turned off?

The VNS magnet can also be used to temporarily turn off stimulation. People can do this for different reasons. For example, people who have occasional hoarseness as a side effect of the VNS may want to stop the stimulation when they are singing or speaking in public. If a sensation of breathlessness occurs during stimulation, you may want to temporarily turn it off during intense exercise. Those with swallowing troubles may want to stop stimulation while eating or swallowing pills.

Talk to your doctor or nurse about when to turn off stimulation temporarily, for example:

  • If stimulation interferes with certain activities.
  • If stimulation becomes uncomfortable or painful.

How does the VNS magnet work to turn off stimulation?

When the magnet is held directly over the generator, the switch inside the generator is closed and stimulation will not be delivered. When the magnet is removed, the switch opens and the device is able to deliver stimulation.

Make sure that you read the VNS Therapy Patient Manual to find the location of the switch in the model of VNS that you have and how to hold the magnet over the pulse generator.

How do I use the magnet to turn off stimulation?

  • Hold the magnet over the generator for at least 6 seconds. As long as the magnet is held over the generator, stimulation will not occur.
  • If the magnet is removed in less than 65 seconds, a burst of stimulation will occur from the magnet mode then it will return to its normal cycle of stimulation.
  • If the magnet is held over the generator for more than 65 seconds, when you remove the magnet, the generator will return to its usual cycle of stimulation.
  • To hold the magnet over the generator for a period of time, tape the magnet in place. You can also wear a jogbra or something tight around the chest to keep it secure.


Continue to Safety Tips for VNS Magnet Use


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