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Understanding occupational and physical therapies

July 7, 2019

Therapies are a form of treatment that are used for healing or rehabilitation of people from disorders, injuries or health issues. Therapies can help a person to recover from mental and physical trauma as well.

Today we will talk about 'occupational therapy' and 'physical therapy' which are used to help a person perform everyday tasks independently.

Difference between OT and PT

  1. Occupational therapy-OT is used to each basic skills that are used by us in everyday life such as eating, combing, buttoning a shirt etc.

    Physical therapy-PT is aims to improve the ability to perform movement of the human body, for instance helping a person rehabilitate from back pain.

  2. An occupational therapist works on improving the skills of the person seeking therapy. In OT, attention is given to all the aspects of a person's life which come into play in our daily lives such as skills, emotions, and behavior or general state of mind.

A physical therapist is a movement expert and will pay attention to the healing of injury or medical issue and get the person to become physically active. Massage, exercises and pain relieving strategies are the focus to ensure a person is able to use the ailing body part or parts.

  1. Physical therapy tends to focus on gross motor skills strength endurance balance pain relief flexibility and the treatment or healing of wounds

    While in the case of occupational therapy the work will focus on sensory integration fine motor skills visual and perceptual skills hand eye coordination improvement of attention of focus and also involved working on social behavioural skills as well.

The two therapies have their own respective benefits depending on the condition of the patients. Many a times the therapies may overlap each other in certain treatment areas however they are still two different forms of rehabilitation processes.

Renowned occupational therapist Dr Kinjal Chandra shares her thoughts about the two therapies and how they have an impact on the patients.

Many parents often have their doubts about the role of an occupational therapist and physical therapist to help their kids. Both the fields do have an overlap in certain areas however there is a common notion that occupational therapist work on fine motor skills while physical therapy is more so with gross motor skills. In other words OTs work more on upper extremity and PTs on lower extremity. But when dealing with the pediatric population there is quite an overlap possible. Dr Kinjal Chandra, Founder Pehel Pediatric Therapy Centre

She further explains, A child with neuromotor dysfunction can also have an overlap of sensory processing difficulties and similarly a kid on Autism spectrum can have neuromotor control issues. Hence the two approaches are used holistically to help the child gain functional independence.

Occupational therapist and physical therapist both are required to interact with their patients or clients. There are certain basic qualities that are required by these therapists such as

- Strong communication and interpersonal skills

- Time and resource management

- A positive and patient mindset

- problem solving skills

Children with developmental disorders and conditions such as ADHD, autism tend to have improvement in their skills, overall development and behaviour through regular sessions of occupational therapy.

Savita Lal, mother of a 5 year old child says that she has seen tremendous improvement in her son who has been regularly going to occupational therapy sessions for 2 years now.

"Some of the improvements that I have noticed are, I find that my son is now more calm and stable, he is more patient and is able to make eye contacts. In fact he is making new and is able to socialize with other children and groups. My son is more interactive than he was before, she says.

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