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How occupational therapy differs from physical therapy

On Behalf of | Jun 22, 2023 | Motor Vehicle Accidents |

If you’ve suffered a serious injury – particularly one to the musculoskeletal system – in a car crash, you will likely need to be treated by a physical therapist for a time. Physical therapists can help people regain strength and range of motion without further injuring themselves. Typically, they prescribe exercises for their patients to do on their own as well.

With some types of serious injuries, people need occupational therapy in addition to physical therapy. Sometimes, occupational therapy is the only type recommended. Let’s look at why it may be a necessary part of your or a loved one’s recovery.

Helping people with activities of daily living

Occupational therapy is considerably different that physical therapy. Physical therapy focuses on getting the body back to as close to normal (or at least what it was prior to the injuries) as possible. Occupational therapy focuses on helping people handle what are called activities of daily living (ADL) given the new limitations they may have. These limitations may be temporary, long-term or maybe even permanent.

If a person’s lower body has been paralyzed, for example, they will need to learn to use a wheelchair. This may require numerous modifications to their home, car and work space. An occupational therapist helps determine what assistive devices and modifications they need and help them learn how to use them.

While physical therapists typically work with patients in a physical therapy facility, occupational therapists are more likely to come to their home so they can better help them in the environment in which they’re living. Of course, both physical and occupational therapists work with patients while they’re still in the hospital or rehabilitation facility.

Sometimes people need occupational but not physical therapy

People who have suffered a brain injury may not need a physical therapist. However, if they’re suffering from memory or cognitive issues, there may be things that an occupational therapist can do to help them regain some of the functions they’ve lost. 

If you’re seeking compensation from the party(ies) at fault for your injuries, remember that this compensation should include all medical bills and rehabilitation costs. That includes both physical and occupational therapy if both are recommended by the doctors treating you. It may include even more specialized treatment like speech therapy. This is just one reason to have experienced legal guidance before you agree to any settlement.