Some medical terminology can be a very overwhelming language to learn. While they may seem the same, there is a difference between physical therapy and occupational therapy. Physical therapy aims to reduce pain, improve and restore mobility and function, and prevent disability. Occupational therapy aims to help individuals across the lifespan engage in their everyday activities, that individuals want and need to do, whether it be going to work, or simply climbing the stairs at home.
When You Would Need Physical Therapy
Being injured or having a condition that is causing your body to degenerate, is debilitating and disrupting to someone’s life. Physical therapy is exactly what the name suggests. PT is defined as the physical rehabilitation of people who are in the process of recovering from injuries and disease. Physical therapists have specialty training in kinesiology, meaning they have studied movement, specifically, the science of how the human body moves.
Therefore, the goal of a physical therapist is to restore their patients function and mobility during rehabilitation, in the hope to eliminate, minimize, or relieve chronic pain, so they can get back to living their daily active lives without disruption. This can minimize the need for expensive surgeries or long-term reliance on medication. Physical therapists also teach patients how to prevent or manage their condition so that they can attain long-term health benefits.
Physical therapy (PT) can help find and treat the direct underlying source of your pain, whether you are suffering from a condition such as arthritis, or have suffered from an injury, and will also help improve your balance and strength over time.
The physical therapist will evaluate your strength, mobility, and overall functional capacity. Based off of this evaluation, proper treatment will be administered. Treatment for patients in physical therapy mainly includes a series of exercises or an exercise regimen, customized and crafted by the physical therapist for the patient’s specific needs, aimed at achieving specific goals, and getting the patient back to living their lives. PT aims to reduce or eliminate the patients need for medication and surgery. Working with physical therapists who are also commonly trained in pain management, can also teach the patient the right way to exercise to alleviate their pain, not increase it.
As evidence shows, people everywhere are experiencing the transformative effect physical therapy can have on their daily lives. As mentioned before, physical therapists are experts in the way the body moves, and if you are in pain, the PT’s at Watauga Orthopedics can help patients of all ages and abilities reduce pain, improve or restore mobility, and stay active and fit throughout life.
When You Would Need Occupational Therapy
Occupational therapy (OT) also relates to and considers the physical aspects of rehabilitation, but it instead of focusing on the mobility aspect of things, an occupational therapists primary goal and focus as a medical professional is enabling their patients to regain their function and independence, from handing even the simplest of everyday tasks to getting back on the job.
By definition, Occupational therapists must often determine whether the patient can complete daily functions on their own, or whether a caregiver is needed. They focus on the patient as a whole, including their well-being both in and outside of therapy. Occupational therapy places a unique focus on the patient’s rehabilitation and returning them to their daily life, just like physical therapists, but OTs focus a bit more on the before and after, in other words, the overall picture. Improvement of daily function is immensely important for the safety of patients, and thus are the primary focus of occupational therapists.
While physical therapy focuses on the rehabilitation aspect, occupational therapy still focuses on that. Occupational therapists evaluate a patient’s physical capabilities, but they design activities and exercises mostly focusing on how to help the person adapt and function in everyday life, and how to achieve their goals long-term, while recovering and most importantly, going forward. OTs will help patients learn work and life management skills based on their evaluation, and what they are capable of achieving.
Some examples of Occupational therapy include assisting children with disabilities in participating fully in school or other social situations, and helping patients regain skills after recovering from an injury.
Occupational therapy can improve a patient’s functional and social needs, but, most importantly, reduce hospital readmissions, as these healthcare professionals are skilled at knowing whether the patient can be discharged safely into his or her environment, and live independently, or if they cannot, and are in need of additional care. Therefore, determining this can significantly improve the access to high-quality care, and reduce healthcare costs.