Evidence-based practice involves the use of evidence from systematic reviews and randomised controlled trials. The extent of this evidence in neurological physiotherapy has not previously been surveyed. The aim of this study was to describe the quantity and quality of randomised controlled trials, and the quantity and scope of systematic reviews relevant to neurological physiotherapy. PEDro (the Physiotherapy Evidence Database) was searched for trials and reviews relevant to neurological physiotherapy (adult and paediatric). The quality and quantity of trials were analysed, and the topics and conclusions of reviews were synthesised. The search revealed a total of 265 records, consisting of 238 randomised controlled trials and 27 systematic reviews. Since the first trial was published in 1958, the number of trials has expanded exponentially. Fifty-four percent of trials were categorised as being of moderate to high quality, rating five or more out of ten. The first review was published in 1991. Many of the reviews have been unable to reach firm conclusions due to the paucity of available trials. The results show that there is a substantial body of evidence relevant to neurological physiotherapy. However, there remains scope for improvements in the quality of the conduct and reporting of clinical trials. There is an urgent need for more randomised controlled trials and systematic reviews.
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