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The Difference Between Physical and Occupational Therapy

The overall purpose of therapy is to improve your functioning and how to maintain your health. Physical therapy and occupational therapy are often used interchangeably, but the two are very different approaches to orthopedic treatment. Patients of all ages with medical conditions, illnesses, or injuries are recommended therapy to improve their movement. Therapists provide hands-on care that is unique and tailored to the patient's specific needs.

Physical Therapy-

The focus of physical therapy is to improve the patient's ability to function and move their bodies. Physical therapists are able to help their patients through a variety of stretches, exercises, and physical activities. Physical therapy's goal is to correct the ailment where the issue is and prevent future complications or injury. Therapists diagnose the problem and use the necessary treatments for their patients to achieve pain-free movement.

Therapy treatments:

  • Aerobic and hydrotherapy
  • Targeted exercises and stretches
  • Electrical stimulation
  • Application of heat or ice
  • Massages and joint mobilization
  • Ultrasounds

A patient would go to physical therapy for:

  • Recovery from a surgical procedure
  • Joint and hand conditions
  • Improving mobility after injury
  • Neurological conditions
  • Pain management
  • Lung and heart conditions

Occupational Therapy-

Occupational therapy is focused on improving a patient's motor skills and ability to perform certain tasks and activities of daily living. Occupational therapists achieve this by helping their patients adapt and modify their daily activities. The goal of occupational therapy is to promote independence by maximizing one's ability to safely and effectively perform everyday tasks.

A patient would go to occupational therapy for:

  • Neurological conditions such as a stroke
  • Dementia or Alzheimer's disease
  • Joint and hand conditions
  • Recovery from a surgery or injury
  • Developmental conditions such as autism spectrum disorder
  • Psychological conditions or stress management

Would a patient ever do both types of therapies at the same time?

A patient can be recommended to do both types of therapies at the same time. Both physical and occupational therapies work together as a team to help you recover. Some overlapping tasks are performed between the two, such as stretches and exercises because both therapies promote regained strength and motion. Depending on the type of injury or disability will determine whether you need one or both therapies. Both types of treatments provide the rehabilitative services needed to help patients.

Mclean County Orthopedics offers both physical and occupational therapy at our clinic. If you aren't sure which therapy is right for you, MCO are experts at knowing how to help you with your injury. Our MCO therapists strive to restore your strength and health so you can get back to the life you love. If you are dealing with an injury, click schedule an appointment or call (309) 663-6461 to schedule a same-day appointment.

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