Effectiveness of Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) – conclusion

PNF is a common physiotherapeutic approach for post-stroke patients. Despite its use in clinical settings, evidence on its efficacy remains equivocal. The current paper reviews literature on PNF to identify evidence of its efficacy in stroke rehabilitation for adults. The literature review included studies carrying out primary evaluations, a literature review based on meta-analysis of prior research, and a narrative literature review. The evidence provided was not conclusive on the efficacy of PNF.

Various studies carrying out empirical assays indicated that PNF improved patients outcomes especially with regard to enhancing ROM. Despite such indications, the approach was not found to have significant advantages over other methods that are used for physiotherapy, including traditional approaches. Lack of such advantages may however be a factor of limitations present in the methodologies of the studies reviewed. One such limitation is the use of methods that do not allow for effective inter-study comparisons, use of a small sample, and ambiguous descriptions of approaches against which PNF was compared. Despite such limitations, studies combining PNF approaches with other approaches such as FES and Butler’s neuromobilizations indicated such mixed approaches to have enhanced effect when compared with stand-alone PNF approaches.

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