Recovering from an injury can be frustrating. And if you’ve come out of it with some type of disability, that’s often a more challenging road. But bouncing back from injury isn’t impossible.
Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy aim to do just that. Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy are often confused together. They are both rehabilitative therapies that help you achieve the highest level of independence, function, and quality of life possible, with only slight differences.
Physical therapy often focuses on curing chronic pain and mobility after surgery or an injury. Occupational therapy focuses on improving specific life skills, like eating, dressing, and moving around. The methods and goals often overlap, leading to some confusion in patients. This article will help you understand if physical or occupational therapy is better for your condition and needs.
At PainTherapy Medical Care in Brooklyn, New York, we offer both Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy to assist you on that slow and steady path to long-term recovery.
What Is Physical And Occupational Therapy?
Medical health conditions can be tricky. Sometimes, they can come and go with no consequences. Other times, they can stick with you long after. Severe musculoskeletal disorders, congenital conditions, sports injuries, or significant accidents can leave you with physical and mental disabilities that make going through everyday life challenging.
Suppose you’re recovering from a surgical procedure, healing from a major injury, or being treated for a disability. Rehabilitation will be an essential part of your recovery process, and we can approach this in two ways.
Physical Therapy (PT) and Occupational Therapy (OT) are rehabilitative therapies that help you restore your muscle function and prevent disability. However, these therapies don’t undo the damage or reverse the injury. They allow you to improve your mobility and movement while also helping you mentally adapt to the challenges of your disabilities.,
We often carry PT and OT out to help you regain your independence and abilities after conditions like a stroke, paralysis, or trauma. These aren’t fixed therapies; instead, we design specific therapy programs to meet your needs and tend to your well-being.
What Is The Difference Between Physical Therapy And Occupational Therapy?
Although both physical and occupational therapy fall under rehabilitative sciences and often work hand-in-hand, both have distinct approaches when it comes to your rehabilitation.
Differences Between Physical Therapy And Occupational Therapy
The foundation of physical therapy lies in the physical aspect. PT focuses on restoring your ability to move, promoting function, and improving your gross motor skills.
Gross motor skills are the movement and coordination that you develop in childhood.
Occupational therapy works on making recovery and living easier by making structural changes where required. OT is centered on helping you adapt to your conditions by modifying daily activities to suit you.
The critical difference is that physical therapy rebuilds your general motor skills, while occupational therapy rebuilds your specific daily life skills. And these, of course, often overlap.
Similarities Between Physical Therapy And Occupational Therapy
Physical and occupational therapy share the common goal of improving the quality of life, eliminating restrictions, and making your pain more bearable. We design your treatment plan to help you become independent in every aspect of your life, such as daily tasks, work, education, and recreation.
PT and OT can also overlap—both therapies may be needed to address improving or declining health conditions. The techniques are both hands-on approaches, often using the same setting and tools in their therapy programs.
How Does Physical Therapy Work?
Physical therapists use physical exercises, stretches, sensory integration, and other functional activities to improve your gross motor function slowly.
A typical physical therapy plan aims to achieve the following:
- Improved musculoskeletal function: We develop your physical therapy treatment to help you regain or improve your muscle function after surgery, injury, or consequences of chronic musculoskeletal conditions. Your PT plan has exercises that train you to achieve appropriate levels of muscle contraction. This stabilizes your body and joints and results in improved muscle strength, movement, and range of motion.
- Pain relief: Physical therapy slowly reduces the strain on your muscles through a series of physical exercises and activities. These exercises improve your physical function while relieving stress. Moreover, regular exercise and activity after an injury can reduce systemic inflammation in your body and may even protect you against chronic diseases associated with inflammation.
- Preventive effects: Some medical conditions can slowly progress over time or make you vulnerable to injury. An overload of physical stress can lead to tissue injury and possible permanent damage. Regular exercises, rehabilitation, massage, and other specified activities prevent further damage and disabilities by reducing this overload.
How Does Occupational Therapy Work?
Musculoskeletal and neurological impairment may interfere with your ability to engage in everyday activities and your usual routine.3 Occupational therapy helps you maximize your ability to perform daily tasks safely and boosts your productivity despite physical limitations.
Occupational therapists help you become a problem-solver in the following ways:
- Adaptation: An occupational therapist helps you make the most of your life despite your disability. You can relearn how to bathe independently, dress for work, and perform other tasks without hands-on care.
- Stress management: Occupational therapy also focuses on your mental health by incorporating positive coping strategies. It allows you to manage and reduce the stress of your condition and helps you find the right approach at work and school.
- Improve Fine Motor Skills: Your fine motor skills are the small complex motor movements that you perform. OT can help you improve or alter these skills through specific rehabilitation exercises. These exercises target essential activities like brushing your teeth or using a knife and fork to cut your food.
- Simplifying daily activities: Your occupational therapist can modify your daily routine to fit you and your condition. This involves changing your environment or altering the action itself. Your OT plan may also include various tools that make challenging activities easier.
What Conditions Do Physical and Occupational Therapy Treat?
Rehabilitation has an overall goal of helping you regain or improve the abilities you may have lost because of disease or injury. However, the specific goals of your PT or OT plan will depend on the cause of your problem, what abilities you have lost, whether it is ongoing or temporary, and how severe your condition is.
At PainTherapy Medical Care, Dr. Sardar prescribes physical and occupational therapy to deal with medical conditions like:
- Surgery rehabilitation
- Pain management
- Sport or traumatic injuries
- Cerebral palsy
- Stroke or paralysis
- Anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions
- Parkinson’s disease
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Developmental disabilities
- Cognitive disabilities
However, we don’t limit Physical and Occupational Therapy to these conditions. The list of indications can be broadened to fit many other limiting conditions as well. Contact us at our pain management clinic in Brooklyn, New York. Dr. Sardar will help you find the best pain and rehabilitation plan to fit your goals and needs.
Who Needs Physical Therapy?
Physical therapy exercises can significantly improve your natural healing process for various conditions. It’s a reliable treatment for easing chronic pain from any sports injury, overuse injuries, musculoskeletal diseases, and even cancer.
According to research, both PT and OT are beneficial to pediatric and elderly (geriatric) patients,. So, regardless of your age, gender, and physical condition, you can benefit from the effects of physical therapy. You may need physical rehabilitation if:
- You are recovering from a debilitating physical injury
- You are recovering from a physically limiting medical condition (stroke, paralysis, etc.)
- You suffer from chronic pain
- You want a natural pain relief process
- You want to avoid surgery
- You want to avoid steroid injections for pain relief
- You want to speed up your healing process by combining different therapies
Who Needs Occupational Therapy?
Occupational therapy treats you as a whole, not just your injury. No matter what age or gender, you can approach occupational therapy as a way to improve your quality of life. If your injury or illness affects your ability to take part effectively in daily activities, it’s time to think about occupational therapy as a valid treatment.
Both therapies are beneficial in helping you bounce back to your active and pain-free life. Both physical and occupational therapy are similar in having the following benefits:
- Natural pain relief: PT and OT are natural recovery methods that minimize the need for prescription drugs, including painkillers. They treat the cause of your pain and not just the pain itself. They aim to resolve pain, no matter how stubborn it is.
- Alternative for surgery: PT and OT are types of manual therapy that promote rehabilitation through evidence-based motor exercises. They achieve incredible results and often lead to full recovery in many patients. So, if you want to avoid surgery, these are non-invasive ways to speed up your healing process.
- Flexible setting: You can perform your exercise program in our center or in the comfort of your home. Most therapy programs include an at-home exercise program so you can continue your recovery at your own pace.
- Improved lifestyle: Occupational therapists are problem-solvers for difficult daily activities. They provide lifestyle hacks and specific tools that make going through life and navigating the personal environment easier for people with disabilities.
What Can You Expect During Physical And Occupational Therapy Sessions?
When injury and pain happen, the first step on the road to recovery is to seek professional therapy. Dr. Henry Sardar and his team of certified physical and occupational therapists aim to improve your recovery with expert care.
They will guide you through the therapeutic exercises that are specified for your condition and your goals. Your exercise program is devised at your consultation or at the time of your first appointment.
Your therapy exercises and activities will be done one-on-one with your physical therapist. A session of physical therapy may include:
- Aerobic and anaerobic stretches
- Massage therapy
- Cold or hot water therapy
- Targeted exercises with the aid equipment
For an occupational therapy session, Dr. Sardar works with certified occupational therapists to evaluate your condition and create a treatment plan for you and your needs. This may include making adjustments to your home and your usual routines.
Depending on your disability, you may be given and taught how to use specific equipment designed to make daily activities easier. In addition, your occupational therapist will teach any caregivers how to support and assist you in your therapies at home. A typical therapy session can fall between 30 minutes to an hour. Dr. Sardar and his team document each session to track your progress to see what needs to be changed or emphasized in your therapy.
Can Physical and Occupational Therapy be Combined with Other Procedures?
Through physical and occupational therapy, we can deal with chronic pain and disabilities from every angle. This includes combining different procedures to get the best results. We recommend combining them with other treatment methods for a speedy recovery and to maximize the therapeutic effects.
Dr. Sardar treats various chronic medical conditions with a combination of pain management therapies at our clinic in Brooklyn, New York.
- Cold laser therapy
- Shock-wave therapy
- Kinesiology taping
- Electromagnetic Transduction therapy (EMTT)
- TECAR Therapy
- Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy
- Perineural Injection Therapy (PIT)
- Ultrasound-Guided Injections
- Acupuncture Therapy
- Aqua therapy
- Fluoroscopically Guided Epidural Steroid Injection and Facet Injection
You can call our pain and physical therapy clinic in Brooklyn, New York, to learn more about our services and how they can be combined.
Should I Choose Physical Therapy or Occupational Therapy?
More often than not, Dr. Sardar prescribes physical and occupational therapy together. The aim of rehabilitative care is to improve your condition and quality of life. However, individual therapies still have their key differences.
So how do you know which type of therapy to choose? Is occupational therapy or physical therapy better for you? When deciding, you can consider your injury, the type of disability you have, and your specific needs.
You may want to consider occupational therapy if:
- You have difficulty adapting to daily life activities with a disability (Difficulty handling chores, bathing, getting dressed, picking up small things, etc.)
- You find it frustrating trying to adapt to your environment
- You need help in improving hand-eye coordination
- You have trouble coping with the stress of injury
- You have developmental or intellectual disabilities
- You are dealing with a debilitating mental health condition (e.g. depression and anxiety)
- Your injury makes work or school challenging
You may need to work with a physical therapist if:
- Your condition is affecting your ability to walk
- You feel pain whenever you move a certain body part
- You are losing balance, mobility, and flexibility after an injury
- You want to speed up recovery from surgery
If you still can’t decide on which therapy to choose, you’re more than welcome to consult with Dr. Sardar and discuss which therapy would be most effective.
Cost of Physical and Occupational Therapy
The cost of physical therapy and occupational therapy is a bit tricky to calculate. Every injury, every disability, and every patient are unique. This means that physical and occupational therapy plans are highly customized, and therefore have a varying price tag.
Thankfully, many insurance companies do cover physical and occupational therapy if your orthopedist or primary care physician deem you fit for therapy.
We accept most insurance providers including New York State Medicaid, HealthFirst, Fidelis Care, Affinity Group, Metro Plus, Amerigroup, BlueCross / BlueShield Medicaid Plan, and United Health Care Community Plan are welcome.
Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy are different types of rehabilitative care that share the ultimate goal of decreasing your pain, improving your physical function, and promoting your independence.
Visit our pain therapy clinic today and get a personalized therapy care plan by Dr. Henry Sardar himself.
- What can I expect from occupational therapy? Occupational therapy deals with pain and recovery as a whole. It includes exercises that help you cope with your injury, improve or modify your fine motor skills, and teach you how to navigate your environment easily.
- Why is occupational therapy important? OT provides full and long-lasting recovery because it focuses not only on the physical factors but also on the emotional and environmental factors.
- What body parts does occupational therapy treat? Usually occupational therapists rehabilitate your elbows, wrists, hands, and even your brain.
- What body parts does physical therapy treat? Physical therapists deal with spine-related body parts, such as your legs, knees, ankles, feet, and hips.
- Does occupational therapy extend to exercises? Yes, your occupational therapist may recommend and teach you exercises that will help you improve your motor skills.
- What are examples of occupational therapy? Hand-eye coordination, developing fine motor skills, learning positive behaviors, and using special equipment.
- What kind of effect does occupational therapy elicit? Occupational therapy promotes long-term independence and productivity by maximizing your ability to perform daily activities in a safe and effective manner.
- What is the long-term effect of physical therapy? Physical therapy offers pain relief, improved balance, stability, and proper muscle control for function and pain-free movement.
- Does physical therapy elicit pain? As expected, there will be some discomfort when you’re recovering from a painful condition. However, when supervised by a licensed physical therapist, physical therapy is not a painful process.
Physical And Occupational Therapy – References:
THE ROLE OF PHYSICAL THERAPY AND PHYSICAL MODALITIES IN PAIN MANAGEMENT
Occupational Therapy in the Promotion of Health and Well-Being. – Abstract
Occupational therapy for functional neurological disorders: a scoping review and agenda for research | CNS Spectrums | Cambridge Core
Reviewing the Theory and Practice of Occupational Therapy in Mental Health Rehabilitation – Geoff Waghorn, Chris Lloyd, Alexis Clune, 2009
The Effects of Physical Therapy on Cerebral Palsy | NEJM
Role of occupational therapy after stroke
Impact of physical therapy for Parkinson’s disease: A critical review of the literature
A Functional Model of Cognitive Rehabilitation in Occupational Therapy – Shirley S. Lee, Nancy J. Powell, Susan Esdaile, 2001
Physical & Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics (Phys Occup Ther Pediatr)
Physical & Occupational Therapy In Geriatrics: Vol 39, No 3