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Want Better Balance? Look in the Mirror

Patient’s “favor” one leg following injuries and surgeries (hip fractures, joint replacements, CVAs, etc.). Favoring is usually due to pain, weakness, stiffness, &/or lack of confidence in one leg over the other. Favoring can present in a variety of ways: leaning to the unaffected side in standing, standing with affected knee slightly bent, shorter stride length on unaffected side when walking, limping, etc. Favoring can also be habitual, due to extended time periods of not being able to fully use the affected extremity. While working with a recent patient recovering from a hip fracture, I was reminded of the value of looking in the mirror to improve balance. Despite my best verbal and tactile cues I could not correct for postural and movement asymmetries. In talking with patient, she felt like she was doing what I was asking. But once I brought the mirror in front of her, she could see the difference. With the mirror in place, she could better align her standing posture with equal weight through both legs. She could also improve weight shifting movements to the affected side, more closely matching excursion lengths to the unaffected side. They say a picture is worth a 1,000 words – this might also hold true for the effect of a mirror on balance training!

For more balance training ideas consider pre-ordering 100+ Balance Exercise Book for PT's & OT's - release date is March 2019!