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SportsMed News

Occupational vs. Physical Therapy

July 21, 2017

If you’ve recently been injured at work and have been recommended therapy, you may find yourself confused by terms such as occupational vs. physical therapy. These terms can be confusing because while they are similar, they also have some key differences. It is thus imperative that you find yourself the right specialist to treat your condition in order to recover as fast as possible.

Occupational Therapy

An occupational therapist, as the name suggests, aims to focus more on improving one’s functional abilities instead of treating their injuries directly with manual therapy sessions and mobility exercises. In a sense, an occupational therapist’s main goal is to help in your rehabilitation and optimize your recovery so that you are able to return to your daily activities after your injury or impairment.

Aside from that, an occupational therapist also treats the mind. What this means is that your occupational therapist will talk to you about your emotions, behaviors and ultimately help you to find yourself in order to return to your daily activities. This holistic approach is often absent in a physical therapist as their primary goal is to ensure prompt recovery of a specific body movement. An example occupational therapy is when a serviceman injures himself at work. An occupational therapist’s main goal in this situation is to ensure that the serviceman is able to ultimately return to his normal life as well as help the man cope with the effects of the absence of work.

Physical Therapy

Now on the other hand, a physical therapist is your best bet to fixing an impairment that you are experiencing with your body. Physical therapy includes providing mobility exercises, aligning bones to their original position, reducing the pain the client may feel, and complements the treatment with techniques such as myofascial release.

The primary goal of a physical therapist is to deal with the root problem that a client is encountering that is causing him discomfort and help them prevent further injuries. They try to avoid surgery as well as abstain from unnecessary medications. A simple example would be someone who has an impinged shoulder and is suffering from chronic pain. A physical therapist would be able to identify the cause of the pain, apply specific techniques to ease the impinged shoulders, and from there help the patient avoid a potential surgery in the future.

In conclusion, both physical therapy and an occupational therapy are healthcare practices that treat various problems depending on your condition. If you find that a particular one caters to your needs, then go ahead and seek advice from them to ensure that your condition improves over time.