Using a SCENAR device in a contemporary PT practice

Products at Work

A physician, an orthopedic surgeon and a physical therapist all fell into a Rip Van Winkle sleep that lasted 20 years. The physician woke to find everything changed when he began seeing patients again. The medications he wished to prescribe no longer existed or were pulled from the market by the FDA. For the surgeon, the operating room had been transformed; the instruments he had once used were now in a museum.

SCENAR (Self Controlled Electro Neuro Adaptive Regulator) is simple to use and causes little to no discomfort for patients.

But for the physical therapist, nothing much had changed. He found he could use the same techniques for mobilization and the same modalities such as ultrasound or electrical stimulation. In addition, the physical therapist found that he had lost his massage patients to massage therapists, stretching techniques to athletic trainers, manipulation techniques to chiropractors and hand therapy to hand therapists.

Indeed, the contemporary practice of physical therapy has had little in the way of modalities added to the techniques of hands-on manipulation. Physical therapists are not always aware of new products that can enhance our ability to help patients.

Gaining Approval

I discovered the laser in the 1980s. One of my patients told me of a good experience she had had with another physical therapist who used the laser in his practice. It took another 20 years for the FDA to approve its use. In the 1990s another patient told me about a scanner that another therapist had used in his work with her which was of great benefit. It took another 20 years for the FDA to approve the scanner.

There are many articles written about the scanner known as SCENAR, or Self Controlled Electro Neuro Adaptive Regulator, and how it works. In one of them, Overview of Scenar therapy and its Application to Physiotherapy Practice, the author, J.C. Lyons, B.Sc (Aust) UNSW, Dip Phty, describes it as “an advanced form of electrotherapy which can be effective in the treatment of both acute and chronic pain conditions and physical dysfunction-even those that have not responded to other forms of treatment.” He goes on to say that there are benefits to both patient and practitioner. For patients: “it may include faster recovery times, versatility (can use with children, adults and the elderly), comfort, safety and few contraindications, so treatment over sites with metal implants is permitted.” However, he writes that SCENAR therapy is not indicated for cardiac patients who have pacemakers. Some benefits to the physical therapist, according to Lyons, are that “the device is small, portable, user-friendly, safe and requires only a relatively low level of capital investment.”

I have a certain protocol I use to introduce my patients to what the scanner is and what it can do for them. In order that the patient not be apprehensive, first I show it to the patient. Once patients are comfortable with me using the instrument, I tell them that as I work they should only experience a light and comfortable feeling from the scanner, and if they do not feel comfortable they need to tell me. I explain that the scanner is battery operated and can be adjusted immediately for comfort.

Slow Approach

The next thing I do, which I feel is of major importance in assuring a beneficial treatment, is to keep one hand on the patient’s body and to use the scanner with the other. My hand that is on the body can do mobilization at the same time that I am using the scanner. It is possible to do trigger-point therapy and manual techniques of all kinds in the same way. The scanner can also be used while the patient is doing active physical movement. If the patient has sciatica on the right side of the body, I will use the scanner on that side and then the left.

Physical therapists need to know traditional techniques, but we need to use 21st century technology as well. Adding SCENAR to treatment can enhance patients’ well being and they will become the best referral sources for our practices.

For more information about this device, contact Tomatex LLC at

Shmuel Tatz is a New York State licensed physical therapist. His studies and experience encompass 30 years and three continents.

advance for Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine
Response Time
Vol. 23 • Issue 14 • Page 27