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Occupational Therapy Versus Physical Therapy - Know Everything!

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Iram Parveen 91% (869 ratings)
Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT), Bachelor of Occupational Therapy (BOT)
Occupational Therapist, Delhi  •  7 years experience
Occupational Therapy Versus Physical Therapy - Know Everything!

People get confused between occupational therapy and physical therapy, and often consider them to be synonymous. Substantial differences set them apart, and there are certain overlaps too. Get an idea of what these therapies are about and find why they are different.

Occupational Therapy: Occupational therapy is all about improving the functional abilities of the individual. It concentrates on evaluating the skill set to be honed. If you think that an occupational therapist only treats the inability or injury of an individual like what a physical therapist does with manual therapy or similar techniques, then you are wrong. The occupational practitioner does not work like a physical therapist. The practitioner works to restore independence and self-ability to take care of the daily chores. The abilities and independence may get affected as a result of a disorder or injury. A physical impairment may restrict an individual in a wheelchair. An occupational therapist, in such cases, helps the affected to operate the wheelchair and do some chores while using the same.

Now, if you think occupational therapists never treat any injury, again you miss the significant information. In a few countries, they use ultrasound and other techniques to treat the injuries just like a physical therapist. An occupational therapist often evaluates the scenario. For this, he visits the home and work environment, and offer suggestions to help the affected to work with ease. The practitioner also helps in using the correct assisting equipment to augment the independence of the affected individual.

Physical Therapy: The movement dysfunctions are assessed and treated by a physical therapist. The physical therapist deals with the treatment of the injured tissues and joints. The injuries are treated by the therapist, and the spruce of the injury is also treated. For instance, pain management in case of spondylitis is taken care of by physical therapy. Also, the practitioner suggests exercises that help in improving the flexibility of the tissues, which is the root cause of the problem.

Both a physical therapist and an occupational therapist are knowledgeable in musculoskeletal disorders, and educate people on dealing with injuries and preventing injuries. The difference of focus is what that causes the overlap. The healing process is, however, the goal of both. Compared with a general physician, they play a vital role in rehabilitation. There are specific conditions where both practitioners are involved in full recovery.

Occupational therapists have an additional role apart from dealing with any physical injury. They suggest adaptive measures to cope with the disorder and still live an independent life. Memory loss and cognitive issues need the aid of physical therapy. Physical therapists need a three years doctorate program, and occupational therapists need two years master’s degree to practice. Both the therapies are integral when it comes to restorative health. The therapies help in ensuring the patients reaching the full potential. A patient might require both together, or one after another. But you cannot reach them directly for any health issues. Check with your general physician and find who can help you better to recover.

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