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 of 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 an OT 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.
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. Knowing the difference between OT and PT is valuable in the event that you need one or both of them.
Similarities Between OT and PT
Occupational therapy and physical therapy 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 is actually pretty similar.
According to the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), OT 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 services outline, however, instead of focusing on the performance of daily activities in the middle step it focuses on restoring movement. Both OT and PT are used to manage pain and to 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 OT and PT
While occupational and physical therapy 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 choose between the two therapies.
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 is to maximize your 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. Whereas 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 environments for safer, more efficient functioning.
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.” Physical therapists strive to get their patients back on their feet.
As previously mentioned, a physical therapist is more likely to prescribe stretches and exercises that focus on improving lower body strength and address 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. In the event that surgery is needed, PT helps patients prepare for and recover from the procedure.
If you’re in need of 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 occupational and physical therapy, ultimately a physician or a physiatrist can 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.
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.