Occupational Therapy Verses Physical Therapy: Know The Difference

occupational therapy vs physical therapy

Physical therapy and occupational therapy are two forms of rehabilitation treatment. Rehabilitative treatment aims to improve or avoid the deterioration of your health or quality of life as a result of an injury, operation, or disease. While there are some parallels, there are also significant variations in physical therapy verses occupational therapy.

It is typical for occupational therapy and physical therapy to be confused, especially among students seeking a career in the medical area. It’s understandable: the fields are similar in various respects to having identical names. This article will look more closely at it from both types of therapy, the advantages they provide, and how they vary.

What is occupational therapy?

Many individuals are unfamiliar with occupational therapy in contrast to physical therapy due to its deceptive name. It may appear to be related to occupations, but occupational therapists assist patients with a wide range of duties that “occupy” their life. This might involve working with newborns who are too young for employment and with elderly persons who have been retired for a long time.

An occupational therapist can assist a person in returning to work when their physical or mental capabilities change. However, occupational therapists treat the full individual. They might aid in self-care routines, social connections, and recreational activities. Occupational therapists in the United States should hold a master’s degree and be registered by their state. Approximately 143,300 individuals served as occupational therapists in the year 2019.

What is physical therapy?

Unlike occupational therapists, physical therapists are sometimes referred to as “movement specialists.” They can assist those who desire to enhance their fitness and general well-being. Physical therapists assist clients in resuming normal activities following an accident or sickness. They also provide advice on how to minimize accidents, avoid surgery, and wean yourself off pain medication.

Physical therapists in the United States must hold a doctor of physical therapy (DPT) qualification, which typically takes three years to complete. Aside from biology, such as anatomy, neurobiology, and kinesiology, PTs also study communication, finance, and ethics. Their state requires them to be licensed. There were around 258,200 physical therapists registered in the United States in the year 2019.

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Key differences between OT and PT:

Physical therapy, abbreviated as PT, aims to enhance your motion, mobility, and function. A physical therapist in contrast to an occupational therapist may be doing it through the use of a range of exercises, stretches, and other physical activities. A person who has undergone knee replacement surgery, for example, may consult a physical therapist as an aspect of their recuperation.

The physical therapist works with the patient to improve their knee mobility and enhance their range of motion. This enables them to move about more freely and pleasantly. Occupational therapy, usually known as OT, aims to make daily chores easier to do. This type of treatment focuses on developing your gross and fine motor abilities so that you can do specified daily tasks. The occupational therapist will also work with you to make your classroom or family environment more conducive to your daily activities.

An occupational therapist, for example, may assist someone recuperating from a stroke in relearning how to conduct daily chores such as dressing or eating with utensils. They may also make house modifications, such as placing a grab bar inside the bathroom.

Key similarities between OT and PT:

Some similarities exist between occupational therapy and physical therapy.

Treatment strategies:  OTs and PTs assess patients and develop personalized treatment strategies. They keep track of progress and adjust treatment programs as appropriate.

Conditions are addressed: Both cure a wide range of ailments, including:

  • Amputation
  • Sports-related injuries
  • Parkinson’s disease and other neurological disorders
  • Concussion and other neurological injuries
  • Injury to the spinal cord
  • Stroke
  • Working with family and caregivers to ensure that their clients receive the assistance they require.
  • Clientele: Occupational therapists and physical therapists help patients with medical problems at various phases of life, from infant age to old age.
  • Practice settings: Occupational therapists and physical therapists work in health centers, hospitals, and skilled nursing facilities. Through home health services, both may offer care in people’s homes.

Specialties of an occupational therapist and physical therapist:

Specialists include occupational and physical therapists. Occupational therapists can specialize in the following six areas:

  • Industry and work
  • Health and well-being
  • Children and adolescents
  • Rehabilitation
  • Mental health
  • Aging productively

Physical therapists can earn board certification in one of ten specialties:

  • Cardiac and respiratory problems
  • Electrophysiology in clinical practice
  • Geriatric medicine (health conditions linked with aging)
  • Neurology
  • Cancer therapy
  • Orthopedics
  • Children’s medicine (treatment of children)
  • Sports
  • The health of women
  • Management of wounds

How to know which therapy you need to have out of occupational and physical therapies?

So how can you determine which therapy is best for you out of occupational and physical therapies? That is dependent on your health and your individual requirements. If you have a problem that makes it difficult for you to move or function without discomfort, you should consult a physical therapist other than an occupational therapist. They can help you reduce discomfort and increase your flexibility, stamina, and range of motion by using focused exercises, stretching, and other techniques.

Perhaps you have realized that you are having difficulty executing daily chores like picking up things or getting dressed. Engaging with an occupational therapist in this scenario might assist strengthen the motor skills required for these specific jobs.

See Also: Different Forms of Physical Therapy and Their Advantages:

The bottom line:

Rehabilitative treatment includes physical therapy (PT) and occupational therapy (OT). They have similar aims and address many of the same problems, but they also have differences. Physical therapy is concerned with restoring or increasing mobility, endurance, and muscle strength. Occupational therapy seeks to strengthen the motor skills required to complete daily tasks.

The sort of therapy you pick is determined by your personal ailment and needs. Working together with your therapist can assist you in determining which therapy is most suitable for you and your objectives.

Family Medicine Austin

Written by Jeannette

I am Jeannette, the medical writing specialist here at Family Medicine Austin. I have over five years of experience working with a range of medical and healthcare across the U.S.