PNF ain’t just an acronym with three letters

sensationsWhat makes PNF, Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation, a PNF concept? If you have been a reader of the blog I have already stated that PNF that is usually taught in the Philippines ain’t PNF at all. So what makes PNF as a PNF concept that is more than just as set of movements?

Just for those unfamiliar with the PNF concept and for those new to the blog. The PNF is a concept developed by Doctor Herman Kabat and Maggie Knott on the 1940. The PNF is initially developed for Cerebro-Vascular Accident clients but the practice has now expanded to musculoskeletal clients. The PNF has been taught as a concept since the 1950’s. There are currently 6 courses so as to be a certified PNF practitioner. For a therapist to be a certified practitioner he or she should have taken 5 of the 6 courses as one of the 6 is a specialized course although the practitioner can opt to choose them both. Just to be clear if you have not finished all five it is not correct to call oneself as a certified practitioner but can be called as an attendee. Also just so you know I just attended the first course so I am just an attendee as well.

The PNF follows 5 basic principles as decided during the Tokyo convention of 2005. The first principle is that the PNF assessment and treatment should start positively. In simple terms start with something that the client can do without pain and other symptoms. The second principle treatment should be functional so as to optimize the functional level of the client. In simple terms the treatment should be something that the client can do functionally and include in his everyday life. The third principle is to make the client aware of their potential and resources available to them. The client is to engage in intensive training with repetition and variations and have access to support usually in the form of one’s family as the system hopes to promote participation when the family is present. The fourth principle is that during the assessment and treatment. During treatment not only the clients physical capabilities should be considered but should also include the client’s intellect and emotion. The last principle is my favorite principle from among the five. The last principle includes the use of motor learning and motor control principles in the treatment. The treatment should usually follow the stages of motor control and phases of motor learning when proceeding with the evaluation and treatment.

The thing that most people do not know is that when a cerebro-vascular accident happens the problems arise not just because there is a damage to the brain. Problems occur because there are problems in the synaptic efficiency of the neurons. The thing in rehabilitation is that while the damaged brain cells cannot be recovered the synaptic efficiency can still be improved so as to cause long lasting changes to the client as such they will be able to return to their everyday activities.

To be able to properly use PNF the therapist should make use of the client’s sensation as much as possible. There are ten sensory stimulus that are commonly used during PNF. The ten sensation are as follows, manual contact, verbal commands, visual stimulus, resistance, approximation and traction, stretch sensation, motion sequence, Irradiation and reinforcement, body mechanics and movement patterns. The more the therapist use more of these ten sensations the better the bodies response to the treatment. This is the reason why it is important to understand how each sensation is applied so as to get better responses from the client. This is also the reason why one of the key skills in PNF application is the ability of the therapist to explain the activity to the client.

So if PNF is not a set of movements, what is PNF exactly? As I have said earlier sensation is important so as to be able to use PNF as such the most accurate description of PNF is a “sequenced method of facilitation, which targets improvements of body function, body structure and or activities within the concept of a treatment goal”( IPNFA,2015). PNF is not the movements but the act of using the movements as a means to facilitate the body so as to be able to reach the client’s goals. PNF is actually a case of using functional movement so as to stimulate the body enough so that it will be able to integrate the sensations back to its everyday life so as to be able to produce functional movement. It’s a clear case of using something used everyday as a tool to regain everyday life and that is PNF.

References

International PNF Course handbook, 2015

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