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What is the difference between OT and PT?

A common question that gets asked often is what exactly the difference between physical therapy and occupational therapy is. They are both very similar, but they are also different. Both fields have the goal of allowing a person to return to their normal daily activities, just in different ways. Let’s go ahead and look at the differences between the two.

Let’s start with physical therapy. Physical therapy focuses on treating patients through movement and prescribed exercises. Patients who attend physical therapy often require rehabilitation after an injury or surgery, and require treatment to build back strength, and return to their previous level of function. Treatment will typically consist of a warmup of some sort, and then going into stretching and strengthening activities, and ending with a cool down.

Now onto occupational therapy. Occupational therapy focuses mainly on allowing a patient to return to their daily activities and learning to regain independence in their life. Most patients who require occupational therapy have had a life altering experience and need to relearn how to care for themselves. Treatment will typically focus on fine motor skills, relearning basics tasks, and improving hand eye coordination.

There is a lot of overlap between physical and occupational therapy, and for many people they will receive both to return to their prior level of function. Physical therapy to help with strengthening, and occupational therapy to allow for independence. Regardless of the profession, both have the goal of improving the lives of those around them.

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