While occupational and physical therapy sometimes work hand-in-hand, the two are very different forms of therapy. For someone who isn't a therapist, it can be difficult to decipher between the two therapies in order to understand which one your loved one may need. The easiest way to better understand these two therapies is to learn the differences between the two of them.
When someone experiences an injury such as a car accident or a sports injury, his/her physician may refer him/her to physical therapy. This even applies to injuries that are not considered debilitating, but require parts of the body to be out of sorts for long periods of time. For example, if you have to wear a cast on your leg for a year – you may need physical therapy to help your leg muscles adjust to walking again. Physical therapy involves range of motion exercising and the gradual reduction of using assist devices to get a patient back to their baseline.
Physical therapy is also commonly prescribed to special needs children. A toddler, for example, who is autistic or otherwise developmentally delayed may be struggling to learn to walk. It is also possible he/she has low muscle tone which negatively impacts his/her fine and gross motor skills. A physical therapist can work with a child such as this to improve his/her gross and fine motor skills.
Occupational therapy uses some of the same techniques as physical therapy, however, the therapists focus more on the clients being able to accomplish activities of daily living with little to no assistance from others or devices. They are able to recommend specialized equipment such as special utensils or grabbing devices that will make the patient have more independence. Occupational therapists most often assist people of all ages that have limitations due to medical conditions that either were developed over time or they were born with.
Therapists that specialize in occupational therapy have the knowledge to help their patients make the most out of their lives with disabilities. If the disability keeps them from being able to walk, they will recommend a wheelchair that is specific to their needs. If grasping is an issue, devices that grip or hold items for them or silverware with thicker handles can be ordered.
Occupational and physical therapists use many of the same techniques to get their patients where they need to be. Occupational therapists mainly focus on helping their clients be able to live and maintain a productive lifestyle while physical therapists mainly try to get their clients to be able to do what they were able to do before they became injured or ill.
For more information, contact therapy experts, like those at Physical Therapy Center PC.