Occupational Therapy vs Physical Therapy

An aging woman receiving physical therapy on her arm by a licensed therapist

Understanding the difference between OT and PT

senior physical therapy dsc 3223 n 6WAFY2J 300x200 - Occupational Therapy vs Physical TherapyThere are some common types of therapy people need, especially older people who are struggling with growing physical challenges they face as they age. But there is also a common misconception in understanding some of these types of therapies, especially when trying to understand the difference between occupational therapy and physical therapy.

Occupational Therapy Definition

While the word ‘occupation’ often makes a person think of a career or job, in the context of occupational therapy, the word ‘occupation’ refers to the activities you engage in, the various ways that you occupy your time.  So, the primary focus of treatment that occurs as part of occupational therapy is in getting a patient better able to handle the activities they encounter in their regular day-to-day life.

Activities of Daily Living

A phrase that is important to best understanding what occupational therapy is and how it is different from physical therapy is “activities of daily living”. This is a phrase you will see a lot regarding goals of occupational therapy and is often abbreviated as ADL.

Occupational Therapy Definition - Occupational Therapy vs Physical Therapy

Benefits of Occupational Therapy for the Elderly

The work of occupational therapy is highly beneficial to patients, especially senior citizens and the elderly. In fact, 75% of people who are living nursing homes who receive occupational therapy have positive outcomes. Other benefits to older patients include:

    • Helps get them to become self-sufficient
    • Reduces the risk for a fall to 39%
    • Reduces disability in people who have strokes
    • Multiple sessions (of either OT or PT) each week can lead to better outcomes for patients who have suffered hip fractures

Physical Therapy Definition

Treatment that occurs as part of physical therapy is focused on recovering from a physical injury or ailment. The goal is to restore mobility with the treatment as opposed to resorting to surgery or reliance on medications to handle or treat the physical problem. Often along with recovering from the physical impairment the person is currently suffering with, the physical therapist will assist the patient how to prevent further injury and/or how to handle physical conditions that may continue to have long term affects.

Physical Therapy Definition - Occupational Therapy vs Physical Therapy

Ailments & Injuries Treated with Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is often thought of as something a person undergoes after being injured, such as from playing sports. But there are many other conditions and ailments that are treated with PT, and many issues that are common to senior citizens and the elderly, such as:

    • Lower back pain or osteoporosis
    • Joint and soft tissue injuries such as fractures and dislocations
    • Stroke
    • Traumatic brain injury
    • Parkinson’s disease
    • Congestive heart failure

Occupational Therapy Working Alongside Physical Therapy

While these types of therapies have different specific goals and outcomes, they often work hand in hand. A person recovering from an injury may receive physical therapy to recover from that injury, such as to gain strength and mobility. And then that person may also see an Occupational Therapist to work on regaining his ability to handle the day-to-day tasks that were made difficult by that injury such as brushing teeth or buttoning a shirt.

reconstruction aides WWI.sm  300x241 - Occupational Therapy vs Physical TherapyReconstruction Aides

When you look back at the history of occupation therapy and physical therapy, you will see they have similar roots. Both types of therapy were formerly referred to as reconstruction aides. Reconstruction aides were a common form of treatment provided during World War I to help injured veterans.

Differences in Job Duties

Some of the work done by occupational therapists include:

  • Help a person be able to get dressed by themselves
  • Advise in the types of adaptive equipment that may help the patient with daily tasks

Some examples of what a physical therapist may do include:

  • Instruct what exercises should be done to alleviate physical problems
  • Develop fitness program that promotes a healthier and more active lifestyle

Differences in Certifications

The total requirements to become an occupational therapist or a physical therapist can vary state by state but always require a degree and to become licensed.

Occupational Therapist Qualifications
  • Have a degree from an accredited occupational therapy program
  • In Kansas, be licensed by the Kansas Board of Healing Arts
  • Be certified by the National Board for Certification of Occupational Therapists
  • Can also receive board certification in such fields of study as gerontology, mental health, or physical rehabilitation
Physical Therapist Qualifications
  • Have a degree from an accredited physical therapy school
  • Pass the National Physical Therapist Examination
  • Can get certification from the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties in such areas as geriatrics, neurology or orthopedics

OT & PT Services at Mount Hope Nursing Center in Kansas

Mount Hope Nursing Center provides a variety of recovery services for the elderly including occupational therapy and physical therapy. Our friendly and highly skilled team of professional therapists and licensed and experienced in handling all manner of treatment required.

Each patient’s needs are unique and so we work to customize the therapy to meet the exact needs you are facing, not just with the actual physical impairment but also in recognizing and addressing what your specific requirements are to have an enjoyable life.

In addition to occupational and physical therapy services, Mount Hope Nursing Center also provides speech therapy. Speech therapy can help people suffering from such things as aphasia, esophageal cancer or swallowing disorders.

Recover in Comfort

image026 300x151 - Occupational Therapy vs Physical TherapyWhat better place to seek out recovery for an injury or ailment than out in beautiful Kansas country! If you or a loved one is in need of occupational, physical or speech therapy, you can rely upon the skilled nursing professionals experienced in the treatment and care of aging and elderly patients inside our Mount Hope nursing home. You do not need to be a resident of our nursing home to receive treatment at Mount Hope Nursing Center. Call us anytime to learn more about our services or facility at (316) 667-2431. We are just minutes outside Wichita and provide a welcome, relaxing atmosphere that is ideal during recovery.

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