Study: Aquatic PNF Stretching for Stroke

Effects of Aquatic PNF Lower Extremity Patterns on Balance and ADL in Stroke patients.

Kim EK and Kim YM from the Department of Physical Therapy, Graduate School of Physical Therapy, Daegu University, Korea; Lee DK from the Department of Physical Therapy, Yeol-Lin Hospital, Korea., JAN 2015.

This study investigated the effect of aquatic proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) patterns in the lower extremity on balance and activities of daily living (ADL) in stroke patients.

Twenty post stroke participants were randomly assigned to an experimental group (n = 10) or a control group (n = 10).

The experimental group performed lower extremity patterns in an aquatic environment, and the control group performed lower extremity patterns on the ground. Both exercises were conducted for 30 minutes/day, 5 days/week for 6 weeks. Balance was measured with the Berg Balance Scale (BBS), Timed Up and Go Test (TUGT), Functional Reach Test (FRT), and One Leg Stand Test (OLST). Activities of daily living were measured with the Functional Independence Measure (FIM). A paired t-test was used to measure pre- and post-experiment differences, and an independent t-test was used to measure between-group differences.

The experimental and control groups showed significant differences for all pre- and post-experiment variables. In the between-group comparison, the experimental group was significantly difference from the control group.

These results indicate that performing aquatic proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation patterns in the lower extremity enhances balance and ADL in stroke patients.

PNF stretching, or proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation stretching, is a set of stretching techniques commonly used in clinical environments to enhance both active and passive range of motion with the ultimate goal being to optimize motor performance and rehabilitation. The literature regarding PNF has made the technique the optimal stretching method when the aim is to increase range of motion, especially in short-term changes. Generally an active PNF stretch involves a shortening contraction of the opposing muscle to place the target muscle on stretch. This is followed by an isometric contraction of the target muscle. PNF can be used to supplement daily stretching and is employed to make quick gains in range of motion to help athletes improve performance. Aside from being safe and time efficient, the dramatic gains in range of motion seen in a short period of time may also promote compliance with the exercise and rehabilitation program.

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