What is the difference between Occupational Therapy (OT) and Physical Therapy (PT).
When someone hears the term called “Occupational Therapy”, many people think that, what is occupational therapy? And if they know it, they may ask “is it similar to physical therapy?’.
Many people confuse with the term occupational therapy and may consider it a branch of physical therapy. For some, both fields are interlinked and similar but reality is that both the fields are very much apart from each other.
Physical therapist treats patient’s actual impairment, while an occupational therapist treats that impairment in action.
Occupational therapy is more involved in the activities and functional purpose of a movement. The word occupation is defined as “an activity in which one engages.” A Goal of an occupational therapy intervention is more towards the active engagement of the patient.
Physical therapy is more involved to alleviate pain, swelling, stiffness and improves in the strength and range of motion of a particular joint. Physical therapy uses many physical modalities like ultrasound, TENS, SWD etc., to decrease the pain and swelling and promote healing process.
Occupational Therapy Vs Physical Therapy
It will be very difficult to explain the difference between occupational therapy and physical therapy without any example.
Let’s have an example of a patient with an elbow injury. Who has a limitation in joint range of motion and muscle strength and obviously on his functional daily living skills.
Role of Occupational Therapy – Focus of an occupational therapist would be more on patient’s functional daily living skills and occupational tasks. Goals of intervention will be, promoting self-eating, self-dressing and occupational tasks like writing, lifting or pushing activities. An OT will recommend him to move his elbow during eating / face cleaning. An OT more focuses on an active range of motion by suggesting overhead activities and sand board activities. An OT may suggest him adaptive devices to assist with completing activities. An OT may help him for environmental modification according to the need of a patient.
Role of Physical Therapy– A PT will look forward for elbow pain and swelling. And make further plans for increase range of motion and muscle strength by passive exercises and stretching exercises. A PT may use physical modalities to decrease pain and swelling.
Overlapping practice areas–
These both fields are having much difference in theories, approaches and goals. But, there are lots of similarities or overlap of both professions. OT and PT are both involved in the educating people about how to prevent and avoid injuries. Many times, an OT would suggest activities and exercises to improve range and strength. While many times, a PT would suggest how to involve in daily living activities. The most common neurological approaches like NDT and SI, now can be learnt by an OT or PT and can practice accordingly.