We know that both physical therapy and occupational therapy offer many benefits to those who need it. Both help people maintain their independence, maximize their function and lead to healthier, active lives.
Sometimes both therapies are prescribed for a patient. However, the two therapies are often confused, yet they complement each other and work together.
Differences Between Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy
Let’s first look at occupational therapy. In general, the goal of occupational therapy is to enable patients to maximize their abilities to perform activities of daily living. These activities include dressing, bathing, cooking and other common household and work-related tasks.
Occupational therapy focuses on helping people live as independently as possible. Occupational therapists assess a patient’s living and work environments and may recommend adaptive equipment and provide training on the use of these devices, such as reachers, dressing aids, special computer equipment, splints and braces. They also create home exercise programs designed specifically for the patient. Occupational therapists also offer assistance to caregivers.
People who need occupational therapy are frequently those who have had a sudden serious health condition like a stroke, and are mentally or physically impaired in some way, developmentally disabled, or the person has suffered an injury. Occupational therapy also helps those who suffer from chronic conditions like arthritis.
While occupational therapy focuses more on helping people get back their independence and successfully carry out activities of daily living, physical therapy aims to treat the injury itself and help prevent future injuries.
The goal of physical therapy is to fix the impairment and promote mobility, functional ability and improve quality of life. Physical therapy focuses on helping people recover from their injury and eliminate as much of their pain as possible.
Physical therapy involves manual therapy techniques that focus on the area of the body that experienced trauma, like a torn ligament or broken bone. These techniques help improve mobility, decrease pain and increase function.
People who need physical therapy are those who are recovering from an injury or are suffering from a long-term health problem, like chronic back pain or osteoarthritis. Physical therapy can help a person regain their mobility to move in a pain-free manner. Once the patient has recovered, a physical therapist will recommend a fitness program beneficial to the patient’s needs, whether it is cycling, swimming, walking, etc.
Both occupational and physical therapies are extremely important for helping patients through their recovery period.
At American Senior Communities centers, occupational and physical therapist are part of a multidisciplinary team of doctors, nurses, social workers and others working together to return patients home able to live life on their own terms.