Many people might question the relationship between occupational therapy and physical therapy. Some think the professions are the same or that the terms are the same; there are a few different therapies for people who have been faced with a stroke, a disability, or any injury that has caused physical restrictions. The methods and techniques used in these therapies can overlap with each other, but both occupational therapy and physical therapy covers all aspects of the patient’s health including their physical, psychological, and mental state. Occupational therapists and physical therapists are similar when it comes to training.
The fields of occupational and physical therapy usually involve the training of patients and improving the abilities of their motor functions. Occupational therapists and physical therapists share certain areas such as body awareness, strength and endurance, classroom positioning and adaptations, and sensory motor skills. They both involve accessing the medical history of the patients as well as evaluating their current performances, setting therapeutic goals, developing a plan, and applying a treatment that enables the patient to function better.
After an illness, serious injury, or surgery, you may recover slowly. One may need to regain their strength, relearn lost skills or find new ways of doing things they once did. The process is called rehabilitation. Rehabilitation often focuses on occupational therapy to help the patients with their daily activities. Physical therapy is needed to help their fitness, mobility, and strength. One example of how a similar activity might be used in occupational therapy versus physical therapy is where the patient might be asked to work on a crossword puzzle or another activity.
In occupational therapy, the OT would be watching to see how well the patient is able to understand and spot the words among other letters, and the patient’s capacity to hold the pencil steadily and circle the word. In the physical therapy setting, the PT might have the patient stand up at the table if he/she usually sits in a wheelchair and maintain his/her balance while circling the words. For this certain activity the gross motor controls would be more of the focus.
There are also some differences between Occupational therapy and Physical therapy that may make each therapy distinctive from each other. Occupational therapy mainly focuses on evaluating and improving the patient’s functional abilities. The OT does not directly treat a person’s injury but they do help the patient gain back their freedom and their ability to accomplish their daily activities. The occupational therapists main purpose is to improve life skills and most of the time involves adaptive equipment.
On the other hand, physical therapy is focused on treating the patient’s injuries itself and helping prevent further injuries. The PT will make a diagnosis and treat the physical source of the problem like the structures and injured tissues. A physical therapist studies mostly over the musculoskeletal system and the anatomy. Occupational therapists receive extra training in oral and hand skill interventions and physical therapists obtain more training in the postural development and gross motor.
The common and easy dividing line is, occupational therapists work with the patient’s body from the waist up, and physical therapists work with the patient’s body from the waist down. Although occupational and physical therapy uses different methods when treating the patients, the number one goal for both professions is the same: they both solve the function of maintaining the fitness and overall health of the individual. Both of the professions make every effort to cover all the aspects of the human health such as; mental, physical, and psychological.
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