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Occupational Therapy vs. Physical Therapy: Knowing the Difference

Knowing the Difference

Occupational therapy and physical therapy are often used interchangeably. These two distinct types of orthopedic treatment require many of the same skills but are entirely different in their approaches to clinical treatment.

To begin, it's essential to understand how physical therapy and occupational therapy are similar. Both treatments provide direct rehabilitative services designed to help patients perform routine daily tasks independently as well as educating people on injury prevention and the process of healing. Furthermore, specialized treatment options focusing on improvement through training and education are used in both therapies. Not surprisingly, both types of treatment require extensive training in anatomy and the musculoskeletal system. Now that we understand commonalities shared by these two types of therapies let's explore how physical therapy and occupational therapy differ from one another.


Understanding How Physical Therapy Helps You

Physical therapy places emphasis on physical rehabilitation. This therapy focuses on improving and correcting dysfunctional body movements impacting a patient's ability to perform everyday activities. Physical therapists diagnose the problem and complete the necessary treatment based on biological factors. Treatment usually includes:

  • Increasing flexibility
  • Aligning bones and joints
  • Reducing pain in the affected areas through exercises
  • Massaging or other therapeutic procedures


Physical therapists strive to prevent injuries, avoid surgery if possible, and help post-surgery patients achieve pain-free movement. The goal is to correct the ailment without the long-term use of medications and to prevent future complications that would require treatment from an orthopedic surgeon.


Occupational Therapy and You

Occupational therapists assist people suffering from health issues that hinder them from participating in essential activities. While physical therapists help restore real functionality, occupational therapists treat the whole person. This involves examining not only the reasons why a patient's participation in specific activities has been impacted but also the roles and environmental factors present in their daily life. Their goal is to increase patient engagement using a more holistic approach to treatment. Occupational therapists reteach and/or develop client skills, utilize resources or equipment to make life more manageable; adapting a client's environment to work in their favor. 


If You Need Therapy, MCO Is Here for You!

McLean County Orthopedics offers both physical and occupational therapies to our patients. MCO provides comprehensive, compassionate care while respecting and modifying treatment to the uniqueness of each patient. An MCO therapist can work with you to restore your health and your life. There's nothing we'd love more than to help you return to a healthy, independent life. 

For more information, call us at 309-663-6461 or contact us online.

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