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Thread: Difference between PT and OT

  1. #1
    Senior Member oscdude's Avatar
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    Difference between PT and OT

    What is the difference between a Physical Therapist and an Occupational Therapist? When I was in rehab I remember both therapist doing pretty much the same thing with me as far as "physical" theraphy goes. Can an Occupational Therapist graduate into a Physical Therapist with schooling if desired. Would school be less now that the person is a OT?

    T5 Incomplete (06/02/03)- Walking with no assistance.

  2. #2
    PT"S focus on the body, OTs focus on applying the body to everyday activities. PT's focus on strengthening what muscles you still have, while OTs focus on practical usage of those muscles, with a macro-vision of adapting to daily life. Using equipment, ideas for house adaptations, driving, all that stuff.

    Don't worry, she'll hold together. You hear me, baby? Hold together.

  3. #3
    Some of this varies by practice and licensure or certification, while some varies by institutional practice. Here is a description from the CRPF website:

    Occupational Therapy

    An occupational therapist (OT) is skilled in helping individuals learn, or relearn, the day-to-day activities they need to achieve maximum independence. OTs offer treatment programs to help with bathing, dressing, preparing a meal, house cleaning, engaging in arts and crafts or gardening. They make recommendations and offer training in the use of adaptive equipment to replace lost function.

    OTs also evaluate home and job environments and make recommendations for adaptations. The occupational therapist also guides family members and caregivers in safe and effective methods of caring for people. Occupational therapy not only helps to restore basic physical skills, but also facilitates contact with the community outside of the hospital.

    Physical Therapy

    The physical therapists (PT) treat disabilities that result from motor and sensory impairments. Their aim is to help people increase strength and endurance, improve coordination, reduce spasticity, maintain muscles in paralyzed limbs, protect skin from pressure sores and gain greater control over bladder and bowel function.

    PTs also teach paralyzed people techniques for using assistive devices such as wheelchairs, canes or braces. In addition to "hands-on" exercises and treatments, physical therapists also educate people to take care of themselves. PTs may also work with joints and assure their range of motion. Physical therapists also use methods such as ultrasound (which uses high frequency waves to produce heat), hot packs and ice.
    Both now require a masters degree for practice, so have roughly the same education, but with different emphasis.

    Here are some typical areas of expertise and interventions:

    PT:
    <UL TYPE=SQUARE><LI>Strengthening and balance exercises
    <LI>Gait training
    <LI>Transfer training
    <LI>Range of motion and teach self-range
    <LI>Standing and standing equipment
    <LI>FES to the legs
    <LI>Application of heat, cold, ultrasound and other modalities
    <LI>Bracing and selection of gait aids
    <LI>Evaluation and selection of wheelchairs
    <LI>Home evaluation for mobility issues[/list]

    OT:
    <UL TYPE=SQUARE><LI>Arm and hand strengthening
    <LI>Coordination exercises
    <LI>FES for the hand and arm
    <LI>Application of heat, cold, ultrasound and other modalities
    <LI>Hand bracing (functional and static)
    <LI>Activities of daily living (ADL) training, which includes feeding, dressing, bathing, writing, computer use, typing, cooking, etc.
    <LI>Evaluation and selection of adaptive equipment such as wheelchairs (in some centers), commodes, bathing equipment, dressing and feeding aids, etc.
    <LI>Home evaluation for functional issues[/list]

    Ideally the PT and OT should work together collaboratively so that each builds on others strengths and compensates for each others weaknesses.

    Of course we sometimes joke (never seriously) that OT gets the arms, PT gets the legs, and nursing gets what is in between!!!!

    (KLD)

    [This message was edited by SCI-Nurse on 12-13-04 at 08:23 PM.]

  4. #4
    Senior Member oscdude's Avatar
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    Thanks Chris.
    Thanks KLD.
    I come with this question because I am continuing my education (Cal State, Long Beach) and I am interested in majoring in Biology or Health Science but I want to use my knowledge to help others better their lives. Nursing has come to my attention but I don't think it's the job for me. Responsibilities come with all jobs but Nursing is a big one and I don't think I will be able to handle it.
    My recovery has been a blessing. I have gained A LOT of my function. On a scale of 1-10 I say I fall on an 8 with my funtions. I Don't use any equipment at all, I run, drive, swim, work out...it's as if nothing ever happened to me. Science/Biology has always been my interest but I don't want to end up just teaching the material as my career, which would be great but maybe when I am old and back on my cane . Physical Therapy has always been a high interest, but I question myself when it comes to pursuing this career because of my "disability" and fusion.
    I have talked to the PT department at my school and spoken to the director and explained to her my problem and where I stand with all this.
    She said:
    "Oscar, I don't think you should have a problem with pursuing this career. We won't keep you from applying to the program. As far as you in the work field; you can always accommodate. You can do outpatient, small hospitals, nursery faicilities or pediatrics, but remember that as part of the program at the school there will be a general training in all fields. There will be some lifting but you are not alone, you can always partner up because PT can be very physical."
    Taking in what she said she made sense. I have seen therapist that at most times work with partners if necessary and also I have also seen short, thin female therapist that can do the job and at most times have assistance. If they can do it, well so can I, right?
    Even so, I still have my concerns with PT. I have also been looking into Occupational Therapy which is also something I wouldn't mind pursuing. OT is less physical and it's something I would be able to do.
    What do you guys think of all this? You guys probably think I am crazy, considering my physical restrictions.
    One thing though, I am going to volunteer at some rehab clinics. I am gooing to try and volunteer at Rancho Los Amigos Rehab Center and see how that works.
    Any input from you guys is appreciated, guide me here!

    PS: Did you guys know there's an OT a Rancho Los Amigos who is in a wheelie. I think thats cool!


    THANKS!

    T5 Incomplete (06/02/03)- Walking with no assistance.

  5. #5
    I know both OTs and PTs in chairs (as well as some nurses). Most work in the rehab field (inpatient and outpatient). Accomodations can be made both in school and in practice. Also, both fields have non-professional staff. PT has PTAs (PT Assistants) and OT has both COTAs (certified OT assistants)and OT aides. There programs are at the vocational or jr. college level, and an accomodation in both fields would be to include these staff on your "team".

    I think volunteering at Rancho would be a great way to discover which direction you would like to go. It also gives you "points" for applying to either type of professional program (OT or PT). Personally I have always thought that if I was not a nurse I would like to be an OT as I find the creativity and challanges of that field more interesting than those in PT, but that is me personally. If you are into science and math, rehab engineering might also be an option, although there are fewer programs around.

    (KLD)

  6. #6
    Senior Member oscdude's Avatar
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    kLD, thanks for all your input.
    Do you friends, the OTs and PTs, come to this forum? I would really like to talk to them. That would be really cool if I did.
    I have never heard rehabilitation engineering, I should look it up.

    Thanks.

    T5 Incomplete (06/02/03)- Walking with no assistance.

    [This message was edited by OsCDuDe on 12-14-04 at 01:42 AM.]

  7. #7
    check www.resna.org for rehab tach stuff

    good luck!

    *Join a Movement*

  8. #8
    Senior Member amanda's Avatar
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    yea...what is rehab engineering? developing rehab programs?

    " The best way to predict the future is to invent it."
    - Alan Kay


  9. #9
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    I am a PT that owns a rehabilitation company in the Detroit Michigan area called the Recovery Project. We employ both PT's and OT's the PT's focas on whole body strengthening, gait training, flexability, balance, coordination and endurance training. Our OT's focas on activities of daily living. In our program our clients recieve 2-3 hours of PT and ( if needed) 1 hour of OT.

    Polly

  10. #10
    Banned Faye's Avatar
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    Originally posted by The Recovery Project:

    I am a PT that owns a rehabilitation company in the Detroit Michigan area called the Recovery Project. We employ both PT's and OT's the PT's focas on whole body strengthening, gait training, flexability, balance, coordination and endurance training. Our OT's focas on activities of daily living. In our program our clients recieve 2-3 hours of PT and ( if needed) 1 hour of OT.

    Polly
    It would be great to have affordable programs that would offer those hours per day rather than per week as I assume your program does. Anything less is insufficient even for maintenance, let alone progress unless you are very incomplete.

    Anyway welcome to CareCure and thanks for posting. I like the name of your program and the fact that you provide endurance training!

    ~It's troubling that exit polls and vote totals were so far out of whack. "I've spent my whole life in marketing. The difference is clearly beyond any sampling variability. ... The community of statisticians and media experts need to not let this be dropped"~ Bill Hawkes, a retired A.C. Nielsen Co. statistician.

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