Occupational Therapy vs. Physical Therapy: What’s the Difference?

April 12, 2019

The fields of occupational therapy (OT) and physical therapy (PT) often get confused. Both specialties include hands-on treatment to help people recover and perform everyday tasks, but each field takes a unique approach in how it helps individuals get back to their normal routines.

One key difference between OT and PT is that OT focuses most on improving a person’s ability to perform day-to-day tasks, and PT focuses on improving a person’s ability to actively move a part of the human body that might be injured or impaired.

Occupational Therapy

Perhaps you broke your leg while climbing down a ladder, and now you have to be on crutches for a couple of months. In this scenario, you could regularly meet with an OT to discuss your desire for fast healing. Maybe you want to heal as quickly as possible because you look forward to getting back to the gym, or maybe you desire to go for your routine walks outdoors with your dog. Your OT would keep your goal in sight and help you focus on accomplishing these tasks as independently as possible.

Physical Therapy

Maybe you love to run, but your hips are really tight and inflexible from years of high impact exercise. Your PT would diagnose the physical root of the problem and work with you to create a treatment program that will help you recover safely. Working on strength and stability, you and your PT would work together to restore the injured part of your body back to a healthy state. It is likely that your PT would also provide resources and exercises for you to do at home to improve flexibility and relieve pain.

While OT and PT have different roles in the healthcare industry, there is a great deal of crossover between the two disciplines. They both provide education on how to prevent injuries, help you throughout the healing process and improve daily life. In many cases, both professionals are needed to provide expert advice in a situation involving injury recovery.

Read more about the physical therapy services Campbell Clinic provides or make an appointment with a physician today.


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