Anxiety and Balance Treated Together
> 1/27/2009 1:26:03 PM

While childhood is supposed to be a carefree time, a worrying number of children develop anxiety disorders before they are seven years old. These children can be particularly hard to help because they have not yet developed the communication skills necessary to explain their symptoms and hint at causes of the problem. However, a way to reach these children may have just been supplied by a study conducted by Dr. Orit Bart and published in Research in Developmental Disabilities.

Dr. Bart, leading a team from Tel-Aviv University, gathered children with balance dysfunction and found that they were much more likely to have both anxiety disorders and low self-esteem compared to the control group. This finding alone is quite important, because it gives an early warning to parents and doctors that children who move unsteadily are at high risk for anxiety.

The study went further than finding an initial correlation between anxiety and balance- it explored the possibility of solving both problems with one treatment. An experimental group of children with balance dysfunction were given balance training once a week for 12 weeks. These children not only developed improved balance, they also showed significantly fewer symptoms of anxiety and higher self-esteem.  

These results give hope that the significant portion of anxiety problems correlated with balance can be detected early and treated with physical therapy. While many adults are responsive to talk-therapies and medication, these treatments can be too complex or too dangerous for children. Balance therapy may be an easy way get anxious children to walk with confidence.  

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