Physical Therapy vs. Occupational Therapy: What’s The Difference?

In honor of Occupational Therapy month, we are taking a look at the difference between Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy, and what makes OT special.

First let’s take a look at the definitions…

Physical Therapy: the treatment of disease, injury, or deformity by physical methods such as massage, heat treatment, and exercise rather than by drugs or surgery.

 Occupational Therapy: a form of therapy for those recuperating from physical or mental illness that encourages rehabilitation through the performance of activities required in daily life.

Hannah PageWe asked Hannah Page, Occupational Therapist at our South KC clinic, how she defines the difference:

“The difference between Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy is in their lens of practice that view function as a means and end,” Hannah, shared. “We utilize what individuals want and need to do in life and set interventions to achieve those goals. Function is our main priority. We take a top-down approach which means completing functional tasks as a part of our intervention while respecting phases of healing to slowly build people back up to where they need to be after surgery or injury.”

Let’s take a look at what physical therapy treats and what occupational therapy treats…

What PT Treats:

  • Pre- and Post-Surgical Rehabilitation
  • Lower Back Pain
  • Neck Pain and Headaches
  • Concussion and Dizziness
  • Knee Pain, Sprains, and Instability
  • Ankle sprains
  • Ankle/Foot Pain and Plantar Fasciitis
  • Hip Pain and Stiffness
  • Shoulder Pain, Stiffness, and Injury
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries
  • Tennis and Golfer’s Elbow
  • Bursitis and Tendonitis
  • Postural Problems
  • Sports Injuries
  • Balance/Walking Problems
  • Muscle Strains
  • Cancer Related Fatigue
  • Workers’ Compensation Injuries
  • Automobile Accidents and Whiplash

What OT Treats:

  • Shoulder Pain, Stiffness, and Injury
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries
  • Tennis and Golfer’s Elbow
  • Bursitis and Tendonitis
  • Trigger Finger
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Arthritis and Rheumatic Disease
  • Finger and Tendon Injury
  • Lymphedema
  • Nerve Injuries and Conditions
  • Mental health
  • Neuromuscular Disease

“Whether we are working with children who have autism and are struggling in school, adults who have had a stroke and are having difficulty dressing, someone hurt on the job, or young athletes; our main goal is to get people back to what they love and need to do in life,” Hannah shared.

Where OT Happens:

Occupational therapists serve people in a variety of setting including:

  • Outpatient clinics
  • Inpatient rehab
  • Schools
  • Community-based settings
  • Home health
  • Rehabilitation hospitals
  • Nursing homes
  • Hospitals
  • Psychiatry settings

About ARC Physical Therapy+ Occupational Therapy

ARC Physical Therapy+ has a strong Occupational Therapy team.

“At ARC Physical Therapy+, we are blessed to have some of the best and most talented Occupational Therapist’s/Certified Hand Therapists in the Kansas City metro area,” Jean Sublette Certified Hand Therapist and Occupational Therapist at our Cameron, Gladstone, and Tiffany Springs clinics, shared. “We all come from different backgrounds and levels of experience, yet share a common goal to provide the best possible care for our patients. I feel very fortunate to be a part of this team.”

Learn more about our Physical and Occupational Therapy services and contact your clinic to schedule an appointment.

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