Collaborative Treatment: Physical Therapists and Occupational Therapists Work Together to Treat One Injury

By Lauren Levitt for Athletico

collaborative treatment: physical therapists and occupational therapists treat one injuryDo you have shoulder, elbow or hand pain that has been lingering and now hurts more? Have you been experiencing discomfort in your hands while typing on the computer? Did your doctor make the diagnosis of tendonitis, tennis elbow, trigger finger or golfer’s elbow?  For these healthcare needs and more, Athletico Physical and Occupational/Hand Therapists are able to get you back to doing the things you love.

Physical Therapy Treatment versus Occupational/Hand Therapy Treatment

Typically occupational therapists are the specialists in conditions affecting the elbow,
wrist and hand. Physical therapists treat anything spine related, and other body parts including the foot, ankle, knee, hip. Both professions treat the shoulder. When going through treatment, patients may experience the following options when working with an occupational/hand therapist and/or a physical therapist.

Treatment Option How it works
Neuromuscular Re-education Uses repetitive movements, cueing, and posture to reinforce proper muscle movement
Graston Technique Instruments are used to apply pressure to improve function of muscles, tendons and ligaments
Manual Therapy Treating therapist uses hands on technique to relax muscles, manipulate joints, and reduce pain
Therapeutic Activities and Exercises Patients are instructed through a variety of movements to address the affected area. This treatment option is looking to improve range of motion, strength and function throughout every day activity.

Physical Therapists and Occupational Therapists look to collaborate on a variety of diagnoses. The most common collaborative cases are when the patient is experiencing numbness or tingling of the arm, as this possible nerve compression could be coming from the neck, back or arm.

Physical Therapists and Occupational Therapists may collaborate on other diagnoses by analyzing a patient and their activities to find the root of the symptoms and develop treatment plans for upper extremity (finger tips to shoulder) injuries. The most common injuries that utilize both professionals include rotator cuff syndrome; both pre and post operation, lateral epicondylitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, thoracic outlet syndrome and adhesive capsulitis.
With that said, Physical Therapists and Occupational Therapists are able to collaborate on a variety of patient diagnoses. No matter what specific area may be problematic, patients may have other deficiencies which could benefit from each practitioner’s specific skills.