I recently received an email from a Speech Pathologist who works with my school district. She was concerned about something she’d read in an ASHA blog. Here it is:
“In light of the concerning information on the I-Pad-2 magnets potentially reprogramming programmable shunts, what evidence is known about the I-Pad 2’s magnetism and potential for adverse reaction for students with vagus nerve stimulators who are swiped with a magnet for cessation of seizure? I don’t know the mechanics of the VNS, but am concerned that there could be similar disruption of their proper settings. Thank you for any information you may have.”
I contacted my Sales Rep from Apple, and he directed me to Sarah Herrlinger who is an “Accessibility Specialist” with the company. Here is her response:
“A quick Google search brings up this:
http://www.myfoxtwincities.com/dpp/health/ipad2-hydrocephalus-brain-shunt-jan-31-2012 The two things of note in here are: 1) The iPad needs to be directly adjacent to the valve to be a problem and they say that “a distance of 2 inches is probably safe enough and 6 inches is certainly safe.” 2) They also state that the same is true of “all other sources of magnetic fields which includes most other electronic devices and household magnets as well.” They also say that they believe the device is “probably more beneficial from its academic and developmental benefit standpoint and we would prefer that the child still use it rather than be kept at a large distance from it.” This was also going around the internet from Medtronic in late February: Hi Jonathan:
Per our conversation this morning, I am writing to confirm that we did discuss the magnetic strength of the IPad 2. As I mentioned, the information noted below was a preliminary notice we did send out to the field. Since that time, we have quantified the safety distance needed for the iPad 2. That is, as long as the iPad 2 is kept a minimum of 2” from the valve it will not interfere with the valve setting.
We are currently updating our patient information. This information is forthcoming and you will be able to download the file from the Medtronic website at www.medtronic.com.
As we discussed, it will be a couple of weeks before the final copy is ready, so please look for it then. “
So, the bottom line would seem to be: keep the iPad-2 two to six inches away from a shunt. Don’t leave a student unattended with the iPad-2 if they cannot understand that rule.