How To Ensure Your Limb-Different Child Has Good Balance

October 14, 2014 — 4 Comments

My personal trainer told me I was boring.


I was doing box step-ups for the first time and when I was about half way through he said it.

“Why am I boring?” I panted.

“Usually this is the best part because people are flopping all over the place! Your balance is unbelievable. Honestly, I thought you’d be falling to the right every time,” he told me.

This is essentially EXACTLY what I looked like.

This is essentially EXACTLY what I looked like.

Fast-forward a couple years and I’m on the phone with Gillian from the How To Do Everything podcast and she asks me, “Is there anything you have an advantage over because you have one hand?”

I had never been asked this question before and it stopped me in my tracks. I thought for a moment and then remembered that time with my trainer.

“I have incredible balance,” I told her.

And it’s true. As I’ve thought more about it, I’ve always had really good balance. My mom or dad would have to tell you about my balance as an infant, but it was probably AWESOME. My assumption is that my brain just automatically compensated for the weight imbalance as I grew-up. That said, I wore some form of prosthetic limb for much of my childhood, so that had to factor in somehow, too. I’ve never done any therapy because of my arm, but have always loved playing sports and have successfully accomplished the arduous daily task of showering and getting dressed all by myself. For a fun challenge, try putting your underwear, socks and pants on while standing up…with one hand. But, don’t sue me if you fall over and get hurt.

The other day I posted these questions on the Facebook page:

As I’m writing this, there are currently more than fifty responses. And every one of them is interesting.

It appears to me that this issue – How do I make sure my child has good balance? – is one that has a variety of answers.

The advice runs the gamut and my philosophy is, whatever decision you make for your child is the right one. As the parent who loves him/her and wants the best for him/her, you know best.

So, what are the options?

One of them is to obtain physical and/or occupational therapy. Jen from Born Just Right says about her daughter’s therapy, “Jordan started working with OT and PT services when she was four months old. She was doing just fine but after an expert watched her, Jordan’s body was curved and she hadn’t really paid attention to the left side of her body.

Fast forward to almost nine years later and we still check in with our OT and PT services. Why? Because as her PT says, Jordan is really good at ‘faking it.’ She appears incredibly balanced, but she’s faking her way. We noticed this after Jordan started complaining about how she couldn’t touch her toes. Jordan has maintained incredible core strength but after really looking at her, she wasn’t walking properly! Jordan was moving her long arm when she walked or ran. But she had stopped really freely moving her little arm. That was creating some hip and upper leg deficiencies. (The body is a wild creature. It expects even actions all the time or else it starts messing with you.) Since we started working on more focused running and walking, Jordan is much better at stretching and flexibility. This is a long-term process. Jordan does pilates and yoga each week to keep her body in check. She also dances twice a week and runs with a cross country team. It’s a lot. But it keeps her strong and very aware when her body isn’t feeling quite right.”

Personally, I’ve never had any therapy. Not because I chose not to, but simply because we were never told it was an option! And for some people, in addition to preference, therapy is just not feasible. Whether it be financial or time constraints, if you’re unable to or just don’t think it’s necessary, it’s my opinion that you have nothing to worry or feel bad about. One common theme I saw in the comments thread, though, was getting kids involved in sports or other active endeavors. Soccer, gymnastics, basketball, baseball…all sports require balance and provide a way for kids to work on theirs without consciously thinking about it.

Riding a bike takes mad balancing skills, yo.

Riding a bike takes mad balancing skills, yo.

Another thing to remember is that some people just seem to have solid, natural balance. And some…don’t. And no matter how many hands they have, all little kids fall down, so I’m pretty confident in saying not to worry about yours.

Obviously I’m not a doctor or a therapist, so please check with yours if you’re interested in finding out how their services might benefit your child. That said, it’s been my experience that therapy isn’t required to enjoy a life of SUPERIOR PHYSICAL BALANCE.

I’m going to start bragging about my balance all the time now.

Or…you know…probably not.

What has been your experience? Have you used therapy to improve your own or your child’s balance? How has it helped?


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4 responses to How To Ensure Your Limb-Different Child Has Good Balance

  1. I love it! Thanks for expanding this conversation! Just being a little more aware of what the body can and can’t do is huge for parents and adults with limb differences.

  2. My son (18 months, RAE) has been goig to OT for about 5 weeks. When he first started walking he fell-a lot-as most kids do. He never made an effort to catch himself at all and always just face planted in a horrible way. Our therapist said he needed to work on core strength so he could learn to better stabilize himself. He has done incredible in a short amount of time!

  3. I’ve always had great balance.. I believe it is because my mom put me in dance classes as early as possible. Besides strengthening my entire body, it really got me to live in and experience my entire body. My legs and feet became extra tools.. have my arms full, need to get through a door? I’d use a foot to turn the door knob and then push or pull the door open (usually only when at home).
    Dance, martial arts, and things like yoga are great for being in your body and developing your awareness of balance. Also, having a prosthesis that is similar in weight to your other arm can help too. I wear a prosthesis when I need to, but do pretty well without it too.

  4. My son just became a teenager (yikes!) but I remember back to when he was little. He balance was terrible. He had OT & PT services from the time he came home from the hospital but when he was 4 yrs. old, he didn’t qualify anymore, even though his balance was still off. We found a karate dojo where one of the sensei’s is also an OT. Within 6 months, the balance issues were gone. There are still things that are tricky for him. Learning to jump rope was one. But with much perseverance he is now almost a brown belt. Who knew!

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