The Bobath (NDT) concept in adult neurological rehabilitation: what is the state of the knowledge? A scoping review. Part I: conceptual perspectives

Disabil Rehabil. 2015;37(20):1793-807. doi: 10.3109/09638288.2014.985802. Epub 2015 Jul 9.


Objective: The study's purpose was to describe the range of knowledge pertaining to the Bobath concept/NDT in adult neurological rehabilitation, synthesize the findings, identify knowledge gaps and develop empirically based recommendations for future research. This article explores the conceptual literature.

Methods: A scoping review of research and non-research articles published from 2007 to 2012. Two independent reviewers selected studies based on a systematic procedure. Inclusion criteria for studies were: electronically accessible English language literature with Bobath and/or neurodevelopmental therapy (NDT) as the subject heading in the title/keyword/abstract/intervention comparison with respect to adult neurological conditions. Data were abstracted and summarized with respect to study purpose, defining and operationalizing the Bobath concept, therapist demographics, recruitment, discussion and conclusions.

Results: Of the 33 publications identified, 14 publications sought to define the theoretical foundations and identify key aspects of clinical practice of the contemporary Bobath concept. The publications comprised three theoretical papers, four surveys, a Delphi reported through two papers, one qualitative study, three letters to the editor and one editorial.

Conclusions: Knowledge derived from review of the conceptual literature provides clinicians with an updated Bobath clinical framework as well as identifying aspects of Bobath clinical practice that require careful consideration in future effectiveness studies. Implications for Rehabilitation The integration of posture and movement with respect to the quality of task performance remains a cornerstone of the redefined Bobath concept. A key fundamental principle of the clinical application of the Bobath concept since its inception is the selective manipulation of sensory information, namely, facilitation, to positively affect motor control and perception in persons post-central nervous system lesion. This is an aspect of Bobath clinical practice that requires further investigation. Study and treatment fidelity issues such as therapist expertise, the use of treatment logs to document individualized clinical practice, as well as therapist supervision and evaluation require careful consideration in the implementation of Bobath effectiveness studies such that causality can be determined.

Keywords: Adults; Bobath; neuro-developmental treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Knowledge
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Nervous System Diseases / rehabilitation*
  • Neurological Rehabilitation / methods*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Recovery of Function
  • Stroke Rehabilitation*