Difference between Occupational therapy and Physical therapy

If you or a loved one is recovering from an injury or illness, you may need physical therapy, occupational therapy, or both. Read on to understand whether you need one or the other.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy, or PT, focuses on diagnosing and treating physical movement dysfunctions that may have been caused due to injury or illness.

A physical therapist works to improve the quality of life by:

  • promoting physical activity and mobility
  • preventing injury and disability
  • managing activity limitations
  • improving physical performance
  • rehabilitating injury and the effects of disease or disability with exercise programs and other interventions, and
  • planning maintenance and support programs to prevent re-injury

Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapy (OT) helps to resolve problems that hinder a person’s ability to do the things that are important to them.

This may include activities of daily living, like getting dressed or eating, working, playing sports and participating in social activities.

Both physical therapists and occupational therapists work in various settings, such as clinics, hospitals, schools, and community care centers. Both physical therapy and occupational therapy are often also available as in-home services.

Physical therapist or Occupational therapist

In many cases, you may need help from both types of therapists to recover fully.

A physical therapist will focus on improving your ability to perform physical movements. An occupational therapist will help you perform activities of daily living independently, following an illness or an injury.

For example, a stroke patient may experience paralysis in some parts of the body. To fully recover, they may need –

  • physical therapy to restore strength and movement in that body part
  • occupational therapy to regain functional use, such as learning to write again.

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