Senior Living Solutions of Colorado

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Posted on January 8, 2018 at 3:10 PM

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between Physical Therapy (PT) and Occupational Therapy (OT)?

We met recently with Occupational Therapist Kayla Bach, from Northern Colorado Therapy Services who was able to shed some light on the subject. She summarized, “Both PT and OT provide essential rehabilitative services to clients, and promote health, independence, and quality of life. The difference lies in each discipline’s unique approach to achieving that goal”.

Physical Therapy (PT) focuses on physical rehabilitation from injuries or disease, with the goal being restoration of mobility and strength. A PT may treat a patient through exercises, manual therapy, or other various techniques. They specialize in evaluating movement dysfunctions and will work with their clients to improve specific movement of their body, such as knees, hips, or shoulders. They are skilled in treating injuries by directly addressing tissues and structures that are causing the pain or problem. Additionally, PT’s work with their clients to prevent additional injuries, avoid surgery, and reduce long-term reliance on medications.

Example, an older adult needed to have their arthritic hip replaced. PT is focusing on the client’s strength and range of motion in their leg, as well as teaching the client how to walk again.

Occupational Therapy (OT) looks at how injuries, diseases, and disabilities are affecting a client’s ability to fully engage in their daily activities. It tends to focus more on daily life skills and participation in meaningful activities, such as self-care, work, leisure, and community involvement. They may use functional tasks as well as exercises to address their client’s deficits. An OT may make recommendations for their client to modify their physical environment or use adaptive equipment such as a shower chair or raised toilet seat to perform tasks more safely and independently. OT is unique in that is uses a holistic approach to treat the whole person, and considers unique personal factors such as roles/identity, responsibilities, and environment.

Example, an older adult with Parkinson’s disease is having difficulty getting out of bed at night to use the bathroom. The OT is addressing the client’s movement problems through targeted exercises as well as practicing the task in a real-life setting to determine a more effective strategy.

Occupational Therapy can often assist with the following needs:


Posture and movement


Fall prevention

Energy conservation

Independence with self-care and home management tasks

Driving safety

Home safety evaluations

Continence training

Range of motion



Problem solving

Fatigue management

Mobility in the home and community

Handwriting legibility

Occupational Therapy assists older adults in remaining independent and in their home for as long as possible. If you have an older adult in your life who is struggling with doing things for themselves, you might want to look into OT for them.

If you are in the Northern Colorado area, contact Northern Colorado Therapy Services for a consultation at 970-658-0688. They will meet with you at home or in the office, and they accept both Medicare and BCBS. Check out their website at:

Categories: Health & Wellness, Local Resources

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