Learn & Grow/Rehabilitation/Similarities and Differences Between OT and PT for Seniors

Similarities and Differences Between OT and PT for Seniors

Occupational therapy (OT) and physical therapy (PT) both fall within the rehabilitative sciences and their end goals are to help patients live as active and healthy lives as possible. While OT and PT share many similarities, they both approach treatment from different mindsets.

The most basic difference between occupational therapy and physical therapy is that occupational therapy is a type of physical therapy in which the provider focuses on improving the patient’s ability to perform certain daily living activities. Meanwhile, a PT provider addresses the illnesses or injuries that limit a person’s ability to move or walk around. Both types of therapy can be advantageous to seniors who want to maintain their independence and mobility.

If you’re considering moving to senior living and are curious about the types of on-site health services available, knowing the nuances of PT and OT can help you choose a community equipped to handle your needs—present or future. Explore the differences between these two rehabilitation health services for seniors and learn why opting for a luxury senior living community like Harbour’s Edge in Delray Beach, Florida, can mean getting the best of both worlds.

Similarities Between Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy

Occupational therapy and physical therapy for seniors are both designed to help people recover from injury, surgery, or illness faster and more effectively. The way an occupational or physical therapist goes about evaluating a patient’s condition and planning treatment can be similar, due to the shared goal of helping individuals thrive in their day-to-day activities.

According to the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), occupational therapy services typically include an individualized evaluation to determine goals, customized intervention to improve the person’s ability to perform daily activities and reach the goals, and an outcomes evaluation. The outcomes evaluation ensures that the therapy goals are being met and allows for adjustments.

Physical therapy follows a similar service outline, however, instead of focusing on the performance of daily activities in the middle step, it focuses on restoring movement. OT and PT are used to manage pain and treat joint conditions, including various forms of arthritis.

It’s not uncommon for occupational therapists and physical therapists to work together to provide the best course of treatment for their patients. When evaluating a senior living community, such as Harbour’s Edge, we recommend that you look at all of the available rehabilitation services.

Differences Between Physical and Occupational Therapy

While these two therapies share many similarities, they take very different approaches to recovery that may suit one sort of injury or illness better than the other. Understanding these differences can help you decide if you need occupational therapy or physical therapy.

Why Choose Occupational Therapy?

According to the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, “occupational therapists focus on adapting, modifying or changing daily activities that a person is required or wants to do.” This is accomplished by altering the activity, environment, or skills of the person.

Activities that occupational therapy develops include everything from dressing and grooming to cooking and home management. A major goal of occupational therapy for older adults is to maximize their ability to safely and effectively perform various daily tasks in a way that promotes true independence.

Occupational therapists also tend to help patients improve their upper body strength. In contrast, physical therapists tend to focus on restoring patients’ lower body strength. However, PT does frequently include a mix of upper and lower body stretches and exercises to aid in mobility.

If you’re looking to get back to performing specific daily activities following a major medical event, then it’s most likely that a physician or physiatrist will recommend occupational therapy. OTs also specialize in the use of adaptive equipment and can help modify one’s surroundings for safer, more efficient living.

Why Choose Physical Therapy?

The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) defines physical therapists as “movement experts who improve the quality of life [of their patients] through prescribed exercises, hands-on care, and patient education.”

As previously mentioned, a physical therapist is more likely to prescribe stretches and exercises that focus on improving lower body strength and addressing balance deficits. The main goal of physical therapy is to help patients improve and restore movement and function. PT also helps people manage pain, reduce the symptoms of chronic conditions, and recover from injury.

Physical therapy also emphasizes preventing injury and avoiding surgery, if that is possible. If surgery is needed, PT helps patients prepare for and recover from the procedure.

If you need treatment designed to increase your mobility with an emphasis on specific types of movement following injury, surgery, or illness, then a physical therapist can help. PTs can also help you achieve more regular physical activity and prevent injury before it happens.

OT vs PT: Which Is Right for You?

While it’s helpful to understand the similarities and differences between OT and PT, a physician or a physiatrist can ultimately help you determine which therapy is right for you. As a resident of Harbour’s Edge, you have access to expert guidance and care from a physiatrist who coordinates with the therapy team and your physician to get better results.

Enjoy On-Site Physical and Occupational Therapy Services for Seniors at Harbour’s Edge

At Harbour’s Edge, a luxury senior living community situated on the Intracoastal Waterway, our residents are on the go and love to get outside whenever possible. Our five-star Health Care Center consists of physicians, nurses, and therapists dedicated to keeping you active.

We also believe in educating residents and Delray Beach community members alike about the different forms of therapy available to help them stay independent, including occupational and physical therapy.

If you’d like to get more information on the therapy programs at Harbour’s Edge or any of our related Health Services, fill out the form below or call us at 561-272-7979.

Related Stories