After you suffer a physical injury or undergo surgery on a bone or joint, your doctor may refer you for occupational and physical therapy. You may even need to go through rounds of therapy to strengthen areas before a surgical treatment. Sometimes only one type of therapy is prescribed, but many doctors often recommend both.
Wondering what the difference is between occupational therapy and physical therapy and why you might need these treatments? Look no further than this quick guide.
What is Physical Therapy?
Physical therapy focuses on the physical ability impacted by an injury or surgery and regaining the use of that area. The recovery expected through physical therapy may focus on range of motion, type or direction of motion or strengthening — or all of the above.
When you work with a physical therapist, he or she evaluates your current condition and looks at your health history to see what may have brought you to this point of injury or weakness.
Beyond working on range of motion and strength, your physical therapist may also work with you to correct habits that could have led to the issue in the first place. This can include helping you change your posture, how you grasp or carry objects or your gait when walking.
Physical therapy can include exercises as well as treatments including ultrasound, EMS (electrical muscle stimulation), TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) and traction.
What is Occupational Therapy?
An occupational therapist works with you to determine how your injury or recovery affects your day-to-day life and figure out appropriate accommodations, treatments and exercises so you can get back to managing all of your activities of daily living or those required by your career. Another goal for occupational therapy is to minimize your pain levels so you can work through normal activities without relying on pain medication once your therapy progresses.
Occupational therapy doesn’t just address a specific injury or functionality; it concentrates on whether you have other non-physical limitations that can impact your therapy and improvement opportunities. Rather than one-size-fits-all therapy and modalities, an occupational therapy plan is based on an evaluation of the patient as a whole person and a true look at what they may or may not be able to manage.
Occupational therapy may be done in stages; as one level of success is reached and additional activities become possible, further and more advanced therapy can be approached to improve outcomes and make additional activities of daily living and work life possible after an injury, illness, surgery or age-related issue.
OT/PT in conjunction
Your doctor and therapists work together to create a treatment plan that best addresses your injury or limitation and how to recover from it. That’s true whether you’re a post-surgical patient or someone just beginning the path to improvement.
Keep an open mind when working with your healthcare professionals; they design activities specific to your own needs and may ask you to stretch beyond your comfort zone or strive for harder goals as you work through therapy. Therapy can be challenging, but often results in a much physically healthier and capable you.
Request an appointment today to learn more about our individualized occupational and physical therapy programs. Here at Ferrell Whited, we take pride in providing the best possible care to help you achieve your goals and alleviate your pain.