Physical therapist (PT)
The physical therapist evaluates and addresses the body’s ability to move and function, with particular emphasis on walking and mobility, strength, balance, posture, fatigue, and pain. Physical therapy might include an exercise program, gait training and training in the use of mobility aids (canes, crutches, scooters and wheelchairs) and other assistive devices. The goal is to promote safety, achieve and maintain optimal functioning, and prevent unnecessary complications such as de-conditioning, muscle weakness from lack of mobility and muscle contractures related to spasticity.
Occupational therapist (OT)
The goal of occupational therapy is to enhance independence, productivity and safety in all activities related to personal care, employment and leisure activities. OTs provide training in energy conservation techniques and the use of adaptive tools and devices to simplify tasks at home and in the office. They recommend strategic modifications to the home and workplace to ensure accessibility and convenience. Occupational therapists also evaluate and treat problems with thinking and memory.
Speech/language pathologist (SLP)
The speech/language pathologist evaluates and treats problems with speech and/or swallowing — both of which can result from damage in the central nervous system that reduces control of the muscles used in these important functions. The goal of therapy is to enhance ease and clarity of communication as well as promote safe swallowing and overall health. Some SLPs also evaluate and treat problems with thinking and memory.
Cognitive rehabilitation specialist
Neuropsychologists — as well as many OTs and SLPs — evaluate and treat changes in a person’s ability to think, reason, concentrate or remember. While these professionals use different evaluation and treatment strategies, they share the common goal of helping people function optimally if cognitive changes are experienced.
Vocational rehabilitation counselor
State vocational rehabilitation programs offer job readiness training, job coaching, job placement assistance, mobility training and assistive technology assessments — with the goal of helping people maintain their current employment or find new employment that accommodates their needs.