Most people think they have a pretty good idea of what physical therapy is. Perhaps they’ve been injured in an accident, whether they slipped and broke their wrist or hurt their leg in a car wreck. And if they haven’t been injured themselves, it’s likely they know someone who has.

But knowing just a little bit about physical therapy certainly doesn’t do it justice. Physical therapy helps people in ways that most people are oblivious to, and most people have very little idea of what occupational therapy is at all! Today we’re going to clear up some misconceptions about what at-home physical therapists and occupational therapists do.

But First…What Do They Have In Common?

Both occupational therapists (OTs) and physical therapists (PTs) deal with people who have been injured. They are both interested in helping people get better and deal with the ways in which the patient can make the most of their recovery and keep track of where they are in the recovery process.

Both PTs and OTs are extensively trained in anatomy and how the body should — and shouldn’t — move. They are experts in the musculoskeletal system, which is the way your muscles and skeleton work together and interact with each other. Both can diagnose the problems that a person is having, often with the help of physicians who have already come in contact with the patient. Because of their knowledge of the workings of the body and how it moves, PTs and OTs are also excellent at information delivery, helping people avoid injuries and informing them of ways to get past existing injuries.

There’s no doubt that there’s some overlap in what occupational therapists and physical therapists do, but now it’s time to talk about the ways in which these professions differ.

In-Home Physical Therapy

Physical therapists are more likely to deal with the injury and guiding a patient with exercises that help them get better. In short, PT deals with the current movement dysfunction and helps a patient regain mobility.

Physical therapists tend to be more “hands on” with their patients. This includes helping them regain range of motion in particular limbs, keeping them as limber as possible. PTs make sure that a patient is exercising their muscles and using the skeleton in the proper way, ensuring that the current movements lead to recovery and not additional injury.

Physical therapists are most interested in improving a patient’s strength and balance so that they can regain their ability to walk, reach, grasp, and stand. This is true not only for those with recent injuries but also for those who have handicaps as children and are growing into new bodies. In-home physical therapists, such as those from Tendercare, can help patients with these tasks in a private setting.

In-Home Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapists work with injured patients as well, but they are often more concerned with helping them take care of themselves after an injury. Essentially, they are modifying the environment the patient most often finds themselves in, and educating the patient about the best way to live with their injury and limited movement capabilities.

OTs will help patients learn to how to bathe, groom, feed, and dress themselves so that they can take care of themselves despite the injury to their limbs (or helping to deal with a brain injury that prevents the limbs’ normal use). They can also help to modify the objects used by the patients, including eating utensils, kitchen cabinets, chairs, bathrooms, vehicles, and office supplies so that the patient can make the most of their living arrangements and career.

OTs are often masters of invention. Certainly, they are aware of the latest devices that help people with injuries live fuller lives, but they can also have existing environments modified. After all, every patient is different, as is the house in which they live.

Without a doubt, both in-home physical therapists and occupational therapists are helpful in getting an injured person back on their feet, sometimes literally. Many times they will work together to get the best results, and other times an occupational therapist will follow a physical therapist once the “new normal” is found after an injury. Tendercare employs both OTs and PTs for the best at-home care in the Indianapolis area, so be sure to call us if you’re in need of in-home therapy.