The Difference Between Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy

Physical therapy and occupational therapy form an important pillar of complementary medicine that improves functional, muscular and structural stability in individuals; however, it is noteworthy that occupational therapy and physical therapy are entirely different and distinct tools of rehabilitation.Physical therapy deals with improving the muscular and structural support of the tissues and tendons after an acute or chronic insult. The aim of physical therapy is to restore activity without affecting the normal healing process.Occupational therapy deals with helping individuals in adapting to their injuries in order to maximize productivity and functional independence. An occupational therapist helps in optimizing the mobility with the help of equipments and devices after an injury that may lead to permanent disability. Occupational therapists also play a preventive role by guiding normal individuals to work with their bodies and not against their bodies that is a leading cause of aggravated wear and tear tissue damage and injuries.Physical therapists utilize their vast knowledge of the human musculoskeletal system, anatomy and physiological functioning of muscles, joints and ligaments in order to restore mobility and full range of joint activity. At the same time, physical therapy exercises and maneuvers also decrease the risk of joint destruction and muscle injuries.Occupational therapists help in enhancing coping skills in individuals after injuries. Occupational therapists work with family, relatives, friends and colleagues in order to make the transition less painful and more helpful for the recovering patient.Physical therapist works soon after the injury in the initial recovery course after primary injury while the services of occupational therapists are generally needed in the rehabilitation course when the patient has fully recovered from the initial injury.Provision of physical therapy may improve the situation and mobility of individuals. Physical therapists perform interventive therapies like massage, acupuncture, exercises and manual therapies to improve the functioning of the body.Occupational therapy is performed when the patient has fully recovered and the sole purpose is to improve the quality of life by not letting the disability to affect the life of individuals. Occupational therapists modify the surroundings and the lifestyle mainly; instead of devising any treatment modalities.Physical therapists mainly work with sports teams and athletes (since athletes are most vulnerable to musculoskeletal injuries and require the assistance of physical therapists most). In addition, physical therapists also work with surgical units, burn centers, nursing homes and trauma centers in order to attend to patients who are suffering from moderate to severe injuries involving joints (limb joints or spinal joints).Occupational therapists are usually employed in rehabilitation centers to manage the patients who have suffered permanent damage and disabilities. Occupational therapists train patients to use special devices and equipment like hearing aids, walking aids, visual aids and other equipment that decrease the dependence on caregivers; thereby reduces economic and psychological dependence. Almost 48% of all occupational therapists work in the offices of speech and physical therapists (Bureau of Labor Statistics).Physical therapists are mainly involved in the management of musculoskeletal stability while occupational therapists generally cover all aspects of a person’s life including social (by improving physical independence), psychological (by counseling), economic (by decreasing the caregiver dependence) and professional (by modification of work-environment or skill-set training).Physical therapists require a Bachelors or Masters in Physical therapy followed by training in a physical therapy setting. Similarly in order to become an occupational therapist, individuals require a Bachelors or Masters in Occupational therapy; however no training or experience is generally needed in order to start the practice (according to the reports of Bureau of Labor Statistics).At an average, there are almost twice as much job openings for physical therapists than occupational therapists (198,600 job openings in 2010 for physical therapists as compared to 108,800 job openings for occupational therapists).To sum up, occupational therapy and physical therapy both constitute important tools of rehabilitation and recovery after moderate physical, musculoskeletal, vascular or neurological injuries. Although the primary functioning and aims of the therapies overlap significantly, it can be safely stated that in certain cases, individuals need both physical therapy and occupational therapy to obtain maximal benefits.

Common Myths About Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is indeed the safest and most effective alternative treatment methods available today; especially for individuals who require regular physical activity but are unable to perform as a result of organic, muscular or neurological lesion. However, there are people who have doubts and concerns regarding the safety and efficacy of physical therapy for the management of pain, mobility issues, recovery and rehabilitation after surgeries.You may have heard a lot or rumors, myths and misconceptions about physical therapy and physical therapists. It is recommended to clear your queries in order to get benefitted from one of the most recognized and ancient forms of alternative therapy.One common myth about PT / therapists is that chiropractors and physical therapists can’t work together. The fact is, chiropractor therapy and physical therapy each help achieve positive effects of the other by stabilizing the tissues and restoring healthy circulation. It is however, recommended in some situations not to use the two therapies at one time. Your healthcare provider or therapists are the best people to explain why you cannot utilize chiropractics and PT at the same time. But otherwise, both forms of alternative medicine complement the positive effects in the majority of the cases.It is commonly believed that PT sessions are quite expensive, which is partly true. Moreover, you may have to go to quite a few sessions in order to get relief. However, it is important to know that most insurance companies cover physical therapy expenses and before crossing out the option of physical therapy, it is better to consult your insurance representative. In a worst case scenario, if your insurance is not covering your session expenses, you still have a few options. You can speak to your therapist to break the cost of therapy in monthly installments so that it becomes easier for you to pay. You can always speak to your therapist regarding discount or concession in lieu of your financial hardship. You will be surprised to know that physical therapists try their best to help patients in need.There is a misconception that physical therapy exercises focus on major muscle groups like the knee joint or the neck region. In reality, physical therapy helps in strengthening and stabilizing all vital structures of your axial and para-axial skeleton. Not only do these exercise and manipulation support your muscles but they also remove stress and strain from small muscle fibers, tendons and ligaments. Overall, the aim of your therapist is to make your muscles and bones stronger to give better support to hard connective tissue as well as soft supporting stroma.Another misconception is that the physical therapist can fix everything in one to two sessions. Although, physical therapy is the most effective and potent form of alternative therapy that can help in stabilizing major and chronic injuries with a non-surgical and a non-pharmacological approach; however, it takes a little time for therapy to produce fruitful results.Physical therapists are trained in understanding patho-physiology of joints, tissues and muscles; however, sometimes the damage is so severe that your physical therapist may require more sessions in order to produce remission. Moreover, the aim of therapy is to promote the natural process of healing by providing an ideal environment to the muscles and tissues. This process may take time but the effects are long lasting and permanent.It is often though that physical therapy can cure all musculo-skeletal issues. Once again, it is not necessary since in a number of situations, the cause of chronic back pain or aching tissues is not an injury. Sometimes, your physical therapist may just guide you to improve your posture or stabilize your back while sitting or walking. It does not mean that the knowledge of your therapist is sparse or you need another doctor.The cause of pain or discomfort is not always an organic issue. Sometimes, improper posture or poor physical stability pose stress and strain on supporting ligaments or soft tissues that may lead to limited range of motion and aching discomfort. This can be managed by posture management and simple posture stabilizing exercises. Bottom line is, don’t get disappointed if your therapist is not using special physical therapy techniques on you.If you still have any misconceptions, questions or reservations towards physical therapy, make an appointment and speak to a therapist to know more about holistic healing.