Occupational Therapy vs. Physical Therapy

What is the difference between Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy?

Although both fields provide rehabilitative work to help patients perform daily tasks to improve independence, both physical therapy and occupational therapy have different approaches for helping patients achieve their goals. 

Occupational therapy focuses on activities of daily living whereas,

Physical therapy focuses more on movement of the human body.

Occupational Therapy 

According to the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, “occupational therapy is unique in that it uses a holistic approach to look not only at the reasons a client’s participation in activities has been impacted but also at the client’s roles and environment. The approach includes wellness promotion, rehabilitation, and habilitation.”

Physical Therapy

PT focuses on treating the patient’s impairment from a biomechanical perspective. Physical therapy focuses on improving the impairment itself by lessening pain while increasing mobility, aligning joint and bones, restoring movement, strength, and range of motion. 

Skills that Occupational Therapy address:

  1. Fine Motor Skills
  2. Gross Motor Skills
  3. Visual Motor Skills
  4. Sensory Regulation

Skills that Physical Therapy address:

  1. MuscleFlexibility
  2. Gait Training
  3. Gross Motor Coordination
  4. Strengthening/Therapeutic Exercise
  5. Balance

Physical Therapy focuses on restoring or improving movement, strength, and range of motion. Occupational Therapy aims to improve the motor skills you need to perform daily tasks.

-Krystan Inman, COTA/L