Occupational Therapy vs Physical Therapy: Which is Right for You?

You know you have aches and pains that you don’t want to live the rest of your life with. You need a medical professional to not only ease your pain now but keep it from coming back. But, who? A dentist helps those with tooth trouble. A pediatrician helps kids. Who can help you? For many, the answer is either a physical therapist or an occupational therapist. The key is to decide which one is right for your unique situation.

But first…

What is the difference between occupational therapy and physical therapy?

Physical therapy: A physical therapist treats the patient’s impairment from a biomechanical perspective. Physical therapy improves your quality of life by increasing mobility, aligning bones and joints, or lessening pain. Medical professionals in this field focus on preventing injuries and can help people avoid surgery or a long term-reliance on medications. These appointments take place in an office setting similar to other doctor’s appointments.

Occupational therapy: A physical therapist focuses on whatever the impairment is, while an occupational therapist treats the “whole person.” Whether they’re recovering from injuries or have developmental or cognitive disabilities affecting their motor skills, emotions, or behavior, OTs help people fully engage and excel in daily life. An OT appointment may take place at a public park so a child can boost their mobility and social skills at once.

Both educate people on how to prevent and avoid injuries, help patients through the healing process, and assist people with improving their ability to perform daily activities through training and education. The difference lies in the fact that OT focuses on improving a client’s ability to perform activities of daily living while a PT focuses on improving a client’s ability to perform a movement of the human body. A physical therapist’s primary goal is to get their patients back in motion with exercises, massage, and other techniques.

For instance, let’s say you were rear-ended driving home from work. You love playing basketball on the weekends, but can’t anymore due to a herniated disc. Your physical therapist will work with you to create a specific treatment program that will speed up your recovery, including exercises and stretches that you can do at home. On the other hand, let’s say a person is in a severe car accident and can no longer walk, feed themself, or live on their own. This would be a better patient for an OT, as this professional needs to help them with life skills not just healing back pain.

The fields of occupational therapy and physical therapy are often confused. While both roles provide essential hands-on rehabilitative work to help clients perform everyday tasks as independently as possible, each field takes a diverse approach in helping people get back to their usual way of life. Which is right for you? After going through this list, you may realize that the answer to your specific needs is to visit a Columbia, MD physical therapist. That is BEAT Physical therapy! Book your first appointment by calling (410) 884-0003 or filling out our simple online form. Soon, your aches and pains will be a thing of the past!


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