Occupational Therapy vs. Physical Therapy
Many people confuse occupational therapy (OT) and physical therapy (PT). The two fields offer hands-on rehabilitation to help clients regain independence in their activities, but they use different approaches. Here’s a brief explanation of the difference between OT and PT.
What Is the Difference Between Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy?
The major difference between OT and PT is the results achieved by each form of therapy. While OT aims to improve the client’s capacity to do daily living activities, PT helps the client’s capacity to move various body parts comfortably.
Occupational therapy treats the entire person, not just an injured area or the adjoining parts. Whether the client is recovering from an injury or has cognitive disabilities affecting their ability to move different parts of the body, an occupational therapist will enable the client to become more functional in daily life. OT uses a holistic approach to understand the reasons why a client’s activities have been affected and promotes both wellness and full rehabilitation.
A physical therapist helps the client recover from an actual injury by improving the strength of the muscles and ligaments and increasing the range of motion around the joints. PT also helps improve joint alignment while reducing pain.
The main focus of a physical therapist is to help patients restore full use of the affected part through massage, exercise, movement, use of equipment and diverse techniques. Usually, physical therapists avoid surgery when possible and help people who must go through surgical procedures recover quickly.
For instance, if you injure your knee or ankle and can no longer play soccer in your neighborhood league, your physical therapist can help you create a treatment program for a faster recovery. This includes an exercise routine and stretches you can do indoors.
OT vs. PT: Which Is Better?
OT and PT are not competing fields — they’re actually complementary. Your major needs should inform your choice of one or the other. If you need to resume normal daily activities or have a child with disabilities that have hampered their motor skills, you can see an occupational therapist. On the other hand, if you need quick recovery from a sports injury, you should visit a physical therapist.
While both fields serve various roles in health care, there’s an overlap between the two:
- Client education: Both OT and PT educate clients on various strategies to prevent injuries.
- Improvement in daily activities: After working with an OT or PT for a few weeks, clients will experience improvement in the healing process, and perform their daily tasks with greater ease and comfort.
- Physical training: Both OT and PT use physical training and exercise to improve clients’ physical conditions.