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One common question that individuals with upper extremity injuries have is, “Do I need physical therapy or occupational therapy?” Occupational therapists and physical therapists seem to do comparable things.

For instance, they both usually aid in people who need to recover function after injury or illness. So what is the difference between physical therapy and occupational therapy?

Understanding Physical Therapy

The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) defines physical therapy as “movement experts who optimize quality of life through prescribed exercise, hands-on care, and patient education.”

A majority of Palmdale Physical Therapists help individuals move better and feel better after injury, surgery, or illness.

They use a handful of exercise techniques and physical modalities to decrease your pain, improve range of motion (ROM), strength, balance, and endurance.

In addition, a physical therapist focuses on the patient’s total body. Treatment typically is centered around the lower body, upper body, trunk, or cardiorespiratory system.

Your Palmdale Physical Therapist will work with you to assist you in regaining your functional mobility if you are having a hard time moving around.

Understanding Occupational Therapy

The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) describes occupational therapists as healthcare practitioners who “help people across the lifespan to do the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of daily activities (occupations).” 

The noted things you do that make up each day are considered your occupations. Are you a parent or a teacher? Do you drive a truck?

What specific things must you be able to do to function in your daily roles? These tasks are thought of as your occupations, and they may become compromised after an injury, illness, or surgery.

The inability to perform these meaningful everyday tasks can lead to functional mobility loss and disability. Your Occupational Therapist can help you regain full function during these tasks so you can get back to your typical lifestyle.

You can think of a physical therapist as a professional who works with you to restore gross motor function. Furthermore, he or she can help you get things moving properly.

In addition, your occupational therapist, however, is a professional who can help you regain functional mobility so you can perform the day-to-day tasks that life throws your way. They help you do things properly.

Overall, both occupational and physical therapists work with people to regain normal functional mobility.