The Difference Between Physical and Occupational Therapy

bigstockphoto_Selfmassage_995451Physical and occupational therapy is a booming field in the healthcare industry. Physical and occupation therapy degrees are on the top of the popularity charts when it comes to prospective college students looking for a lucrative and rewarding career. What is the difference between physical and occupational therapy? Why does physical therapy and occupational therapy often get presented hand-in-hand?

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy is meant to focus on a person’s functional abilities. An occupational therapist does not directly treat a person’s injury, but instead helps the person optimize their independence and ability to accomplish daily activities after an injury has occurred. Occupational therapy focuses on a patient’s life skills.

An occupational therapist will utilize adaptive tools that are ofttimes customized by the therapist. They will also do on-site assessments in home and work environments and give recommendations on how the locations can be adapted to allow a better quality of life. Think about them as “occupation” like a job, a therapist that works on a job or home site.

Physical  Therapy

Physical therapy is focused more on treating an injury than working around it or trying to prevent future injuries. Think of them as more “physical” or therapists of the body instead of the occupation/job or home environment.

Physical therapists are trained on anatomy and themusculoskeletal systems, resulting in the therapist being more knowledgeable about muscle and skeletal injuries. They are specialized in rehabilitation, offering services to injured patients that may not be available through a general practitioner.

Similarities and Differences

There is an obvious difference between occupational and physical therapy, but there is also a reason they are found hand-in-hand. For disabled and injured patients, treatment of the injury or disability, as well as prevention, is crucial in overall health. For this reason, physical and occupational therapists, or OTs and PTs, often work together.

When studying for this field in college, be prepared to work congruently with someone in the sister field. It is especially crucial for serious injuries that a patient receive medical treatment from both a physical and occupational therapist.

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