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Occupational Therapy

The role of the occupational therapist in orthopedics is to assist patients to manage and overcome limitations caused by a condition or injury. An OT will consider the physical aspects of rehabilitation and motion, but is focused primarily on enabling the patient to engage in the meaningful activities of daily life as seamlessly as possible, such as bathing and dressing, employment or education and training, as well as social and recreational activities.

Conditions We Treat

Occupational therapists (OTs) in orthopedics treat conditions pertaining to the upper quadrant of the body, including cervico-thoracic (spinal) conditions and shoulder, elbow, wrist, hand and finger conditions using a variety of approaches, such as:

  • Joint and soft tissue mobilization
  • Neuromuscular re-education
  • Thermal modalities (moist heat, paraffin dip, diathermy) and cryotherapy
  • Electrical stimulation, ultrasound
  • Customized orthotics
  • Patient education with proper body mechanics, joint protection techniques and postural correction

How Does Occupational Therapy Differ from Physical Therapy?

The easiest way to describe the difference between physical therapy and occupational therapy is that a physical therapist treats the patient’s actual impairment, while an occupational therapist (OT) concentrates on optimizing functions in a patient’s daily activities. This treatment helps patients do things that are important and meaningful to them, such as eating, dressing, school activities and work. The occupational therapist provides assistance by evaluating and making changes in any of the things that may limit an individual’s ability to do those tasks, including the environment, the task, or the person’s skills needed for the task.