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A woman recovering from a mild stroke had problems with her balance. But they weren't solely physical.


"When we started working on balance, I noticed she would freeze up and become extremely anxious," says Karen Mueller, PT, DPT, PhD, a professor in the program in physical therapy at Northern Arizona University. Mueller talked with her patient to get at the root of the problem. The woman revealed a fear of falling that caused her to tense up, which made it more difficult to do what she physically needed to do to improve.

Mueller suggested that mindfulness meditation might help. "I explained that mindfulness would help her focus on her body and what is happening," she says. They began spending 10 minutes before each session on mindfulness meditation. "She'd begin the mindfulness exercises before her balance interventions. Bringing that more relaxed framework into her balance allowed her to be more comfortable with herself," says Mueller. "Her balance rapidly improved after that. Her fear of losing her balance had been locking her up."

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  1. AMRA's Definition of Mindfulness. American Mindfulness Research Association. Accessed November 21, 2016.
  2. Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society. University of Massachusetts Medical School. Accessed November 21, 2016.
  3. Chiesa A, Serretti, A. Mindfulness-based stress reduction for stress management in healthy people: a review and meta-analysis," J Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2009. 15(5):593-600.
  4. Cherkin DC, Sherman KJ, Balderson BH, et al. Effect of mindfulness-based stress reduction vs cognitive behavioral therapy or usual care on back pain and functional limitations in adults with chronic low back pain. JAMA. 2016; 315 (12):1240-1249.
  5. Galantino ML, Desai K, Greene L, et al. Impact of yoga on functional outcomes in breast cancer survivors with aromatase inhibitor-associated arthralgias. Integrative Cancer Therapies. 2012;11(4):313-320.
  6. Phillips BJ, Chambers JD, Burr M, et al. Effects of meditation on stress levels of physical therapist students. J Phys Ther Educ. 2016; 30(3):33-39.
  7. Jacob JA. As opioid prescribing guidelines tighten, mindfulness medication holds promise for pain relief. JAMA. 2016. E1-E3. Published online May 20, 2016.

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