Occupational therapy and physical therapy are two healthcare professions that are closely related that is why some people are confused if these two things are different or the same. Both professions promote better physical health condition in order to treat disability problems and to prevent further problems involving mobility and other physical skills. Both an occupational therapist and physical therapist use thorough evaluation before devising a specific treatment plan for their patients. To become a physical therapist, or an occupational therapist, both profession require extensive education, training and license to practice.
So what are the differences between a physical therapist and an occupational therapist? According to health experts, physical therapy focuses on the main cause of the problem in treating patients like a disease or injury. They provide treatment plans in order to help patients recover from disability due to injury or disease, and to help patients regain their functionality. An occupational therapist also does the same but instead of focusing only on the treatment of injury or disability to restore the body’s functionality, an OT treats a patient to help them recover from injury that have directly affected their abilities to function at work, the community, or even at home.
Physical therapists provide general treatment to cure disability problems while occupational therapists focus on life skills, functional abilities to live, and preventive measures. Physical therapists may also provide physical therapy care for preventive measure depending on the condition and needs of the patient especially those involved in sports and rigorous activities that require excellent physical condition and abilities.
Through physical therapy, people with problems on their mobility due to injury or a disease are treated using manual therapeutic methods. Occupational therapist may also provide this treatment but they usually focus on counseling therapies to treat physical conditions related to mental, emotional, and behavioral condition of the patient. Physical therapists may also deal with patients with these conditions but occupational therapists are the professionals who specialized in these types of conditions such as developmental disorders and delays, behavioral problems, and depression.
Physical therapists provide care in a more general approach and that is to treat disability to restore overall function and physical abilities. Occupational therapy can be considered as a more specific approach, which is to treat patients with disability problems that affect their abilities to work and perform in various activities and even daily survival tasks like washing, bathing, eating, getting dressed, cooking, and drinking. So in general, physical therapy is a general treatment for any disability problem while occupational therapy is a specific treatment of disabilities associated with home, work, and every day occupation.