What Is The Bobath Concept?

What Is The Bobath Concept?

There are many different methods and treatments within the sphere of physiotherapy for children. Dependent on individual needs, some may work better than others. In this article, we explore a concept discovered in the 1940’s and how it has shaped an approach still used today. So, What is the Bobath concept?

The Bobath Concept is a physiotherapy approach used by qualified therapists to treat children with cerebral palsy and neuro-disabilities. It is a goal driven approach with the aim of aiding those with cerebral palsy to gain independence and be able to complete daily tasks more efficiently. 

Read on to find out more about the Bobath concept.

What Is Bobath Therapy? 

Bobath therapy considers sensory influences, postural reflexes and tonal changes and how these impact the movement and posture of children with cerebral palsy. It can often be referred to as Neuro-Developmental Treatment (NDT).

The theory was founded by physiotherapist Berta Bobath, and her husband Karl who was a neuropsychiatrist. She treated both children with cerebral palsy and stroke patients to gain normal functions. Used for assessing and treating children with neuro-motor conditions such as Cerebral Palsy, the Bobath approach has been widely used since the 1980s. 

Clinical Application Of The Bobath Theory 

Bobath Therapy addresses abnormal movement patterns with the use of specific positioning, activities and handling. It is a very “hands-on” concept, requiring extensive handling and knowledge of movement patterns, both normal and abnormal.

Motor Control 

In an effort to gain more motor control the Bobath concept encourages a goal centred approach aiming to normalise tone and make easier, more considered movements. It aims in essence to ‘organise’ the nervous system. 

Sensory Systems

This is a focus on a child’s fine motor skills. The therapist would use a hands-on approach to guide their movements. As the patient’s movements improve, the physiotherapist would begin to allow more independent practice.

Musculoskeletal System

The combination of physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy is used to treat individuals with a combination of needs such as their motor, sensory, speech and emotional development. 

What Does Bobath Therapy Treatment Look Like?

Exercises in the Bobath approach are gentle and corrective. They are directed by what is particularly difficult for the child. It can be as simple as helping someone to walk more easily, going from a seated position to standing or performing daily tasks. 

An individual approach is taken as each child’s requirements are different. A physiotherapist will create a treatment plan that can be easily followed at home with simple exercises. All therapy sessions are tailored to the child’s age to make them fun and interactive, so sessions are enjoyed.

Bobath Therapy Evidence

More recently there has been some controversy around the continued use of the Bobath Approach to treat children with Cerebral Palsy. This is due to the lack of evidence supporting the effectiveness of long-term outcomes using this concept.

In the UK, generally, there are still centres that use the Bobath Concept as their main treatment method. There are also parts of the UK that have NHS funding for pre-school children to attend Bobath-led therapy centres for treatment programmes. 

However, there are also many other more recent treatment methods and concepts that either challenge the principles of Bobath Therapy or combine some Bobath principles with other methods of treatment.

Children’s Physiotherapy At Therapy Stars

At Therapy Stars we believe that one treatment method does not fit all. We are keen to explore several treatment options in order to provide a more holistic and individual approach to your child’s therapy. 

Get in touch with us today to discuss your child’s treatment needs.

Bobath Concept FAQs

Is The Bobath Concept Used at Therapy Stars? 

At Therapy Stars, we often use approaches that incorporate Bobath principles in some form or another. In fact, quite  a few of our physiotherapists have some level of Bobath training. However, please bear in mind that none of our physiotherapists are fully trained as we like to offer a variety of treatment techniques to suit each individual child. 

What Are The Principles of Bobath Therapy?

The Bobath approach rests on a number of principles that include:

  • Encouragement of normal movement patterns
  • Focusing on quality of movement
  • Normalisation of tone to facilitate active movement
  • Positioning and posture in lying, sitting and standing
  • Discouragement of compensatory movements
  • Promotion of maximum functional recovery to improve quality of independence

Handling techniques are used so that a person does not move with over-exertion and to provide sensory feedback.

What Are The Benefits of Bobath Therapy? 

Bobath physiotherapists encourage a person to move in the most normal and energy efficient way, preventing abnormal movement patterns to: 

  • Normalise tone
  • Regain motor control
  • Improve posture
  • Make movements easier 
  • Improve ability with everyday activities
  • Increase independence
  • Achieve maximum potential

The Bobath approach also emphasises the importance of early rehabilitation, consistency of practice and a stimulating environment to promote recovery.