VitalStim with Electrodes

ReGentex Dysphagia Electrodes

In Dysphagia, NMES, Product Reviews by ywijting

Note: This page will soon move to a new site focused on Clinical Skill Building targeted at clinicians in the world of rehab. The site will offer educational opportunities and information on rehab skills and technology. The first focus will be on Speech Language Pathologists and the use of NMES for Dysphagia. We should be going live in the next few weeks. Come back to check it out!


The use of Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES) in the treatment of dysphagia is a well established treatment modality by now. Over 50% of Speech Language Pathologists active in dysphagia treatment have been trained in its use at the date of this writing.

Consequently, a growing number of clinicians are actively using NMES as a routine treatment option in their dysphagia treatment sessions. This includes the use a stimulator, usually a handheld NMES device, connected to one or more pairs of skin electrodes.

VitalStim with ElectrodesThe majority of clinicians using NMES for dysphagia treatment use the VitalStim stimulator. The device uses lead wires with custom-sized snap connectors that match the stem of VitalStim brand electrodes.

Since the original launch of the VitalStim product line, various ‘generic’ electrode offerings have come on the market. Most of these are positioned as cost-efficient alternatives to the branded option.

While the lower cost is of obvious interest to clinicians and buyers, what about performance? How do these electrodes hold up in clinical use? Are they manufactured to an acceptable standard? Are they cleared by the FDA? How do they compare to the original VitalStim electrodes?

Let’s have a look at how the ReGentex electrodes stack up…

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ReGentex Key Take-Aways

  • Performance in treatment: Excellent. I like it as much as the standard VitalStim electrodes. Impedance measurements show   industry-leading low resistance to current flow.
  • Ease of use: Straightforward, uncomplicated. It fits all VitalStim and similar NMES devices and lead wires. Only down-side is the awkward removal of the paper handling strip on the back of the patch.
  • Re-usability: I can get 2 uses out of each electrode pair without noticeable decline in performance other than an unavoidable decrease in overall stickiness. The zip lock pouch helps prevent the electrode from drying out.
  • FDA clearance: Cleared for use in the treatment of dysphagia with NMES.
  • Support: Excellent. Quick, reliable, personal.
  • Manufacturing: High quality from experienced electrode manufacturer in the USA.

Criteria

What are the key characteristics that dysphagia clinicians look for in an electrode to use with their NMES device? The following are obvious:

  • Low impedance – The electrode must allow the current to pass through with minimal resistance.  It is useful if the vendor can share data to show how impedance of their specific electrode changes after several uses.
  • Good stick and re-usable – The electrode must stick properly to the skin and stay there for the duration of the treatment session. If the electrode is reusable, it must be able to stay on during the 2nd and possibly 3rd treatment session as well.
  • Ease-of-use – You want the process of skin preparation, application and removal to be straightforwad and hassle free.
  • Good anatomical fit – The electrode and patch material must ideally mould over the contours of the treatment area to ensure good continuity of contact. Hotspots may occur if this is not the case.

There are other aspects that may be less essential as the ones above, but still important:

  • Manufacturing – Most vendors have their electrode manufactured by some third party. It is a plus if the manufacturer is well-established and has a long track record of manufacturing electrodes. It is also often good if the manufacturer is based in the USA.
  • FDA clearance – Vendors cannot sell electrodes unless they have been cleared by the FDA. The FDA has specific requirements for electrodes that are designed for use on the neck in the treatment of dysphagia. Look for specific mention of dysphagia and/or the anterior neck in the FDA clearance document.

ReGentex – What I Like

I have used the ReGentex electrodes multiple times and am quite impressed. The electrodes are cleared by the FDA for the treatment of dysphagia with NMES. They are well constructed, hold up well during use and patients tolerate the treatment well when I use these electrodes. Regentex Dysphagia Electrodes

The elements I like most:

  • They are less expensive by quite a margin. Call your preferred vendor for pricing or go here to source them directly from the manufacturer.
  • They conform well to the anatomy. The electrodes use a foam patch material that is stretchy and pliable. Applying them to the anterior neck region is easy and effective.
  • They stick well. I have used them on all kinds of skin surfaces and they have no problem staying on, even without using extra wrap or tape. The second use is less sticky but still quite acceptable. Third use is predictably less sticky, but I didn’t really expect much at that point.
  • They come in a zip lock pouch. Key to reusing electrodes multiple times is how you store them in between sessions. Keeping them airtight is a must. A zip lock bag helps to limit exposure of the electrode gel surface to the air, which prevents them from drying out.
  • They are made in the USA. Besides the benefit to our economy, it is a real plus to have quick and ready access to the manufacturing process to remedy issues and implement improvements based on user feedback.
  • Excellent customer support. This may be one of the more important items in this list. The company is still small and prizes its customer relations. Getting support is quick and easy: pick up the phone and talk to a local representative close to the source. Expect help ASAP.

ReGentex – What Could Improve

Regentex electrode stripThere is only one thing that I am not that excited about: the little paper peel-back on the back of the sticky edge of the foam electrode patch. It is designed to help peel the electrode pair off the plastic liner without touching the sticky adhesive on the back of the patch with ones hands (which would decrease stickiness of the electrode pair). In this case it is cut flush with the edge of the patch material. To get it off once the electrode pair is on the skin, you must twist, scratch and fiddle with the thing. You get used to it eventually, but the design could be improved upon to make it easier and quicker to remove.

In Summary

The ReGentex Dysphagia electrode is an excellent alternative to the original VitalStim electrode. The price point is much better – approximately 30% less than the VitalStim electrodes – while the quality is comparable, possibly even better. The electrode checks all the boxes in terms of quality, FDA clearance and re-usability. The company earns high marks in terms of responsiveness and support.

To me this is a no-brainer!

Interested To Know More?

If you would like to learn more about or order this electrode, visit the website here. The company will extend a discount on any orders for dysphagia electrodes from visitors coming from this page.


Note: This page will soon move to a new site focused on Clinical Skill Building targeted at clinicians in the world of rehab. The site will offer educational opportunities and information on rehab skills and technology. The first focus will be on Speech Language Pathologists and the use of NMES for Dysphagia. We should be going live in the next few weeks. Come back to check it out!