Occupational Therapy vs. Physical Therapy: What’s the Real Difference?

Occupational Therapy vs. Physical Therapy: What's the Real Difference?

As both physical therapy and occupational therapy are the part of rehabilitative care, people often get confused among them and can not differentiate. OT and PT share major similarities indeed. However, there are significant differences present, thus they are pretty different. We can’t consider them with the same approach.

In this article we’ll discuss the difference between occupational therapy and physical therapy, and which therapy is apt for which physical complications.

Occupational therapy: This rehabilitative branch of medical science is particularly dedicated to modifying and improving daily lifestyle and making patients’ regular jobs easy by modifying and altering the environment, and educating patients to make their life better and manage their pain in an effective way.

In most of the cases, Occupational therapists work at the personal skill level and in most of the cases they work on the Upper Extremity Fine Motor Skills and improve them.

Now what is Fine Motor Skill?

Fine motor skill is highly essential for regular activities for example picking up a toothbrush and brushing teeth, cutting and taking food with the help of a knife, accomplishing self-grooming activities like combing hair, getting dressed, driving, typing.

OTs also help patients with mental health complications. Occupational therapy basically gives enough support and enriches them with new techniques that help them to develop new skills. All these new skills help them to cope with physical, emotional, & environmental stress.

OT is the most sought-after job where a therapist helps people to better their life by restoring and improving their life. This job is not only beneficial for elderly people, but also good for children. They also provide their services in neonatal care which is very good for neonatal care in their life span. Being an OT, you need to work on different ranges of people, thus you must have a compassionate and empathetic mind. To make treatment meaningful, Occupational therapists should work on emotional and environmental levels to make treatment meaningful.

One can take the assistance of Occupational therapist if he faces issues like

  • Birth defects / birth issues
  • Sensory processing complications
  • Brain Traumatic injury, Spinal cord injuries
  • Development disorder/ Autism
  • Behavioral health problem
  • Complications that basically interrupt regular life.

With Occupational therapy what can you get?

  • This therapy develops fine motor skills which requires to manipulate hand-hold tools like pens, cooking utensils, and other tools.
  • Correct Hand-eye coordination and movements
  • Autistic people can learn eating, bathing, grooming by themselves
  • Therapy is good for managing emotions, which is necessary for children.

What is the educational qualification?

An occupational therapist must have a National Board for Certification In Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). To get into the NBCOT exam, you must have graduated from an accredited Occupational therapy master’s degree.

Physical Therapy

You may get lots of similarities in the treatment of occupational therapists and physiotherapists. Physiotherapists are movement specialists who prescribe hands-on exercise with patient education. They are problem solvers with passion. They strive to bring back patients’ normal lives full of independence. PTs are actually well-known for reducing pain, letting patients relocate from one place to another, and regaining their functional ability.

In general gross-motor skills are basically developed in the neonatal age. Therefore, they gradually gain movements and coordination of arms and legs. PT often works with orthopaedic surgeons to make the rehab care more effective and result oriented. PTs are mainly focused on improving functional movements and delivering a good life!

As any kind of pain makes a patient mentally weak, and emotionally stressed, therefore, PT must have emotional aspects of healing. Because doctors are patients’ real cheerleaders.

You may approach a physiotherapist if you experience an injury, illness that deteriorates your body functions just like a sprain joint, fractured bone, torn rotator cuff, neck pain, back ache, and also if you have temporomandibular joint pain.

COPD, Chronic obstructive Pulmonary disease (COPD) , sports injury, women health issues also can be treated by physiotherapist.

Educational Requirements

Physiotherapy practice requires a Doctor of Physical therapy degree. That program takes three years to complete. It is the Bachelor of physiotherapy degree. Pre-physical therapy program specially designed to train undergraduate students to face the graduate school challenges.

Just like occupational therapy, physical therapy also must have legitimate certification and experience in physiotherapy treatment.

OT VS PT: which is the best option for your treatment?

Both are best at their point of treatment. They are best at their place. But before going to talk with any OT/ PT; you need to correctly analyse your symptoms. Hope this article will help you to take right decision because we have made this to help patients to take better decisions

Apart from OT & PT, Hand therapy is the latest addition in the rehabilitative care field. They basically deal with problems of hands and overall upper extremities such as hand, finger, wrist, shoulder, upper arm, and forearm muscle. They treat and diagnose problems from root cause level.

Occupational Therapy vs. Physical Therapy


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