Occupational Therapy vs. Physical Therapy

Occupational Therapy vs. Physical Therapy

Often times we hear the words ‘occupational therapy’ and ‘physical therapy’ used interchangeably. However, these two types of therapy are significantly different. In this post we’ll cover occupational therapy vs. physical therapy and how the two are different yet related. To put it simply, physical therapy treats the injury while occupational therapy treats the injury in action.

Physical Therapy – Treats the Actual Impairment

Physical therapists focus more on injured tissues and structures than occupational therapists do. Physical therapists diagnose physical problems that restrict movement and then use exercises to boost mobility, increase muscle strength, and ease pain. Physical therapists also utilize fitness and wellness programs to help prevent injuries and encourage a more active lifestyle.

Occupational Therapy – Treats the Impairment in Action

On the other hand, occupational therapists are more concerned with helping patients with life skills and self-care tasks (i.e. occupations) like getting dressed and using utensils. Occupational therapists are qualified to assist with cognitive problems, like memory loss and aphasia, and recommend medical assistive devices like wheelchairs, walkers, braces, etc. These activities focus less on treating the physical injury and focus more on getting you back into action.

The Common Ground

While physical therapy and occupational therapy both have a different focuses, they are often used in conjunction with each other to maximize your recovery. For example, while a physical therapist is helping you regain strength in your arms, an occupational therapist will focus on your arms in a different way by helping your muscles relearn how to get dressed again. You can’t really have one without the other, and that sounds like the perfect complimentary relationship to us!