PNF, Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation is a healing philosophy based on the assumption that every man, even those with problems, have unused psychophysical possibilities.
- Proprioceptive – using proprioceptor stimulation (sensory bodies in joints, tendons, ligaments, muscles…) and exteroceptors (sensory bodies communicating with the surroundings, used for seeing, hearing, palpating, feeling of temperature)
- Neuromuscular – a better connection between muscles and nerves.
- Facilitation – making easier the movement itself and its start.
Physical therapist has to have a positive approach because he enhances and uses what the man can do. Healing is directed to the entire human being, not just certain body parts.
The goal of every treatment is to achieve the highest level of functioning and help the patient become independent in everyday activities. Therapist motivates the patient, tries not to cause pain, and uses healthy body parts to affect the damaged area.
Therapist is in contact with the patient giving him or her three-dimensional resistance through his hand or surroundings. The resistance is put on different muscle groups depending on the desired effect. Strength of resistance depends on the goal – contraction, stability, or muscle relaxation. Therapist’s touch stimulates sensory bodies in the skin which stimulate the muscle movement (contraction).
Physical therapist uses movement and technique samples by adjusting the patient to different positions (lying down, sitting down, and standing up) depending on the desired goal. PNF concept uses diagonal movements (of arms, legs, head) in all three planes, just as we do in everyday activities. This leads to faster recovery, pain reducing, muscle strength, and greater mobility when compared to other stretching and mobility methods.
Therapist must first estimate the condition, do some measures and test, develop a therapy plan, and set the goal in communication with the patient (e.g. reduce the pain and enhance shoulder mobility). After this, treatment starts. Optimum duration of the treatment is 45-60 minutes.
PNF concept is usually used in all injuries of osteo-muscular system, more specifically in orthopedic and neurological conditions, to enhance vital functions (breathing, swallowing), facial rehabilitation etc.