Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation
Teresa Corless is a Physical Therapy Assistant with Mariposa Therapy Services. Originally from Illinois, she holds an Associate of Applied Science from Southern Illinois University She has been a practicing PTA for 31 years, treating both children and adults. With experience in skilled nursing, hospital, pediatrics, and schools, we sat down with her to learn more about proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation.
What is Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation?
Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF)has been in use since the 1940s. It’s a stretching technique utilized to improve muscle elasticity and has been shown to have a positive effect on active and passive range of motion. It helps address challenges due to progressive neurological diseases, including spastic hypertonia. It involves a group of movements in diagonals, using groups of muscles and joints; diagonal-resemble functional movement is critical because the human body does not move in lateral planes.
How does PNF help patients?
PNF stretching can improve your range of motion or ROM. It can also boost your muscle flexibility and strength. Spasticity is also relaxed with PNF. Combined treatment patterns, such as neck and arms, are precursors to rolling and other functional tasks. PNF combines three senses: vision, hearing, and touch. PNF has been found to be effective in patients who have suffered a stroke, TBI, or other neurological disorders. It is a very effective stretch for soft tissue restrictions, such as frozen shoulder. Athletes and dancers use PNF treatments, and historically, it has been used on polio patients.
What to consider before getting Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation
The following tips are important for patients and their families:
- Therapy is usually only an hour
- Patients must do the “homework” provided to see results
- Repetition is key; practice will increase success
Ask your therapist for tools, and be sure to communicate what is working and what is not, as every patient is different, and outcomes can vary. Families need to be aware of therapy practices that use hands-on techniques such as PNF because these techniques have been sidelined due to many practices moving toward high-tech over high touch. PNF is a tried-and-true technique and is sometimes the way to go if you are facing range of motion challenges. A trained physical therapist will advise you on whether PNF is right for you. If you’re interested in talking to a therapist about PNF, contact Mariposa Therapy Services at 480-374-4341.