After a stroke, fall, or illness, your dad may be having a more challenging time walking around and doing things in the home. It’s been suggested that he would benefit from occupational and/or physical therapy. You’re not sure what that means. What are the differences between these rehabilitative therapies?
Physical Therapy vs. Occupational Therapy
Physical therapy is a program that helps people improve mobility and movements. It’s done through exercises that strengthen and stretch the muscles, make joints more limber, improve flexibility and range of motion, and balance. It’s all about physical movements.
For example, your dad broke his hip and needed a hip replacement. He will work with a physical therapist to learn how to place the full weight on that leg and walk on his new hip joint. He’s going to learn how to strengthen the muscles in the legs and hips. The goal becomes full mobility again.
Occupational therapy is different. It’s designed to help with motor skills when it comes to daily living. It can also mean adapting a home to better suit your changing needs.
For example, an occupational therapist is working with your dad after he fell and broke his ankle. He fell because he slipped on soapy shower tiles. The therapist works with your dad, but other recommendations like grab bars, non-slip shower mats, and shower seats are covered. His therapist may also work with him on using a cane or walker while he heals.
There Can Be Overlapping Therapies
The things therapists cover can have some overlap. Someone who had a stroke may start working with both a physical therapist and an occupational therapist. Both therapists may recommend muscle toning exercises. The ultimate goal is the same, but individually the therapists’ goals are slightly different.
The physical therapist is focusing on mobility. The occupational therapist is looking at how your dad needs to adapt to be able to live independently at home.
Consider Senior Care to Help Out
A physical therapist wants your dad to be stronger and have better balance. That’s why the exercises are being taught and practiced. The occupational therapist wants him to improve but focuses on how those movements benefit his daily living. Sometimes, therapy isn’t the only thing that needs to change. He may need to admit he needs help.
When mobility is limited to the point your dad’s doctor recommends physical or occupational therapy, it’s time to address the benefits of senior care. He should have someone helping him complete the daily activities he has a hard time doing independently. Call a senior care agency to learn more.