Recovering from a serious injury often means lots of appointments with therapists and other medical professionals. Two types of therapists that may cause some initial confusion for a patient are physiotherapists (PT) and occupational therapists (OT). They both work with injured people and both focus on rehabilitation, but what are the differences? We’ll take a look here.
Depending on the type of injury you have, you may be referred to a physiotherapist or an occupational therapist or even both. On the surface, the names may sound somewhat similar and the two may work together on your injuries, sometimes even out of the same clinic. But the type of treatment you’ll receive from each and the type of work they do are different.
The essential difference is the body and what you do with it. At its base, physiotherapy treats the physical body and focuses on movement and function. Likewise, occupational therapy treatments focus on the activities of everyday life and the environment that surrounds you.
Torn muscle and ligaments, fractured bones, separated joints – treating these are all part of a physiotherapist’s care. Through a variety of techniques and treatments, a physiotherapist will work with you to strengthen the injured part, improve motion, and reduce pain. Their focus is on the physical aspect of your injury. Aside from treatments in the clinic, they’ll often give you exercises to do at home to help your body rebuild as best as possible after an injury.
Occupational therapy deals more with your physical environment. Severe injuries may restrict your ability to function and you may not have as much mobility or freedom of motion as you did before you were injured. From your home life to your work life, an OT works with you to find ways to make the most of your situation and your environment so that you can gain as much functionality and independence as possible in your everyday life.
A terrible accident can leave terrible injuries, but both physiotherapists and occupational therapists are specially trained to help with your rehabilitation. Optimizing your physical recovery is the PT’s job. Helping you cope with daily life following an injury is the OT’s job.
Looking for more information on what physiotherapists and occupational therapists do and how to find one in your community? Click on the links below for more information. You can also help others find their path to recovery by sharing this article on social media with the hashtag #BackToLifeWithSV.
For more information
- About Physiotherapy – Canadian Physiotherapy Association
- What is Occupational Therapy? – Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists
- Medical Specialists – HealthLinkBC
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