main-img-homeAt first glance you could be forgiven for thinking that physical therapy and occupational therapy are the same job, and it is true that many of the services they provide overlap. But there are distinct differences between the two professions which I will explore in this article.

Physical therapists are concerned with people’s mobility and movement, whether this is restoring mobility or providing preventative tactics. Physical therapists help people restore function, prevent pain and improve mobility. The clients they work with include post-operative patients, sports clientele and people who have suffered accident or disability. They have an extensive knowledge of muscles, tendons, nerves and bone structure which enables them to provide clients with exercises and techniques to improve function.

They also study balance, coordination, strength and range of motion. Physiotherapists assess the client’s injury, performing tests that help diagnose what is wrong. They may provide walking aids and other aids to assist clients function in day to day activities. Physical therapists can be found in hospitals, rehabilitation units, sports and fitness facilities and outpatient clinics. Becoming qualified as a Physical therapist can take up to 4 years and they are regulated by a professional body.

 Occupational therapists can work with a similar client group. They are also concerned with helping people achieve maximum function and this is often through teaching people day to day skills or providing them with equipment which helps them on a day to day basis. Occupational therapists can be found in similar settings as Physical therapists and their training is of an equivalent duration. Occupational therapists may provide equipment such as hand rails, raised furniture and toilet seats, walk in showers etc., to allow the client to live as independent a life as possible.

Quite often Physical therapists and Occupational therapists work in tandem and this is especially true when they are working with vulnerable groups such as the elderly or disabled. Occupational therapists may visit a client’s home setting to identify what changes may need to be made in the home setting to make life easier and are often involved when patients are discharged from hospital, where there are concerns about how they will cope at home.

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