Occupational Therapy vs. Physical Therapy

From the outside, occupational therapy and physical therapy probably look incredibly similar, and people usually get confused in their meanings. However, there are quite a few things that make them stand out from each other, and we’re going to take a look at those differences now.


Occupational Therapy (or OT) is more focused on providing a patient with a better understanding of his or her abilities and letting them know different ways that they can better look after their health. This type of therapy is quite common for anyone who may be suffering from a physical injury that keeps them from working independently or normally.

Physical Therapy (or PT) focuses more on the actual treatment of injuries someone may have, regardless of whether or not those injuries impede day-to-day life. It is related more to curing a patient’s injuries than occupational therapy is.

Technical Differences

Occupational Therapists are better versed in the deeper aspects of human skills which involve a person’s ability to cope with their present situation, and how they can better achieve a sense of balance. They also study the home and emotional environment, and they give support in those areas.

Physical Therapists focus on recovering from the injury and on trying to prevent future injuries. It is required that he or she have great knowledge of the anatomy and musculoskeletal system in order to properly do his or her job.

Working Environment

Occupational Therapists often work with rehabilitation centers, people who have permanent disabilities, and those who may need counseling on a regular basis. They usually work with very sophisticated equipment.

Physical Therapists normally work with hospitals and clinics that get patients with injuries due to accidents—the most common of which are related to the neck and spinal cord. They help to speed up the treatment process and give a patient fast relief

Even though both OT and PT have similar training requirements, OT is more involved with oral and hand skill interventions, whereas PT works more with postural and gross motor development. As such, each needs to be specially trained in each of their specific areas.

PT often helps a patient to get over his or her injuries in some way, while OT tries to help someone understand the reasoning behind the injury, and how to better deal with the situation through a means of educating the person. However, there are also times where both OT and PT will work together to help someone who has experienced severely traumatic conditions.

So while they may seem similar, they are in fact quite different in their specialties. However, both are determined to help their patients work toward recovery so they may live a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling life.