Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Fascilitation (PNF)
What we know today as PNF began as "proprioceptive facilitation", a term developed by Dr. Herman Kabat in the early 1940's. In 1954, Dorothy Voss added the word "neuromuscular" to give us the now familiar Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation, (PNF).
Dr. Kabat's conceptual framework for PNF came from his experience as a neurophysiologist and physician. The works of Sister Elizabeth Kenney, an Australian nurse who treated polio patients with specific stretching and strengthening activities, was an early influence on Kabat. Kenney's work was seen as a departure from the normal treatment at the time, but lacked the grounding of sound neurophysiological rationale. Kabat integrated Sister Kenney's manual technique with Sherrington's discovery of successive induction, reciprocal innervation and inhibition, and the phenomenon of irradiation.
His goal was to develop a hands-on treatment approach that enabled clinicians to analyze and assess a patient's movement while at the same time facilitating more efficient strategies of functional movement. So it is important to recognize that PNF is not just a treatment approach, rather, it is a tool that allows for simultaneous assessment and treatment of neuromuscular dysfunction.
From its beginnings, PNF has successfully integrated many of the concepts of contemporary neurorehab interventions. The Philosophy and Basic Principles of PNF, together with the specific spiral and diagonal patterns, make up the cornerstone of PNF. PNF also includes mot or learning and functional retention of newly learned activities with the repetition of a specific demand; the use of the developmental progression of motor behavior that enables patients to create and re-create strategies of efficient functional movement; and the biomechanical and behavioral analysis of motor control. All activities within PNF intervention are directed towards a functional goal and are relative to the environment in which the goal is to be achieved.