What Is The Difference Between Occupational Therapy And Physical Therapy?

Rehabilitation after an injury or illness is an essential part of recovery. This includes therapy of all kinds to make sure the patient is fit enough to do things on their own on a daily basis. We often see patients or outpatients prescribed therapy for their minds and body. The purpose of these therapies is to ensure that they recover with flying colors. 

Therapy for the body is of two kinds, physical therapy and occupational therapy. Both have the same purpose but are slightly different from one another. In this article, we are going to explore the key differences between occupational therapy and physical therapy.

Key Differences Between Occupational Therapy And Physical Therapy

Since both therapies work towards the well-being of the patients, they have a lot of similarities between them. The basic difference between them is that Physical therapy is used in physical rehabilitation, whereas Occupational therapy is used in mental healthcare and physical rehabilitation. 

Physical Therapy

To understand the schematics of both therapies let us dive deep into their specializations and how are they different.

Diagnosis and Function

For instance, a patient has had a terrible car accident and has hurt his left leg. There are obviously stitches all over the body after the accident and pain meds are prescribed. But when the tissues heal, his leg needs to function like before. 

Physical therapy will focus on the diagnosis of the patient to ensure that the patient can walk properly. Whereas, occupational therapy will focus on the function of the patient’s legs. It concerns whether the patient will be able to lift his leg without discomfort. Or can they do their daily chores independently?

In simple words, physical therapy helps you to reduce pain, increase flexibility, or restore functional movement. They focus on the gross motor skills of the muscles that can coordinate with arms, legs, and other parts of the body.

On the other hand, occupational therapy improves the person’s ability to perform meaningful activities and the will to heal themselves. They focus on fine motor skills and help to re-learn basic activities to enjoy an independent life after an injury. 

Treatment Approaches And Duration

Occupational therapy uses more holistic approaches to help recover the patient. OT professionals need to understand their patients’ psychological perspectives before starting the treatment. With a proper strategy in mind, OT professionals use assistive devices to help patients engage in their daily activities. 

The duration of the treatment depends on the patient’s ability to be independent in all their daily chores. OT is concerned with the patient’s recovery to not overwhelm the brain. As when the will to do things they love fails so does the therapy. With this, you can not only recover your physical strength but also perform activities that you were not able to do before. 

Physical therapy is organized in this manner, as it focuses more on the diagnosis rather than the psychology of a patient. This treatment includes massages, hot and cold contact, ultrasound, and electrical stimulations. It helps to reduce the pain in the targeted area and steps toward recovery. PT professionals help patients go from point A to Point B without understanding the essence of recovery.

The duration of this treatment depends on the patient’s ability to recover their strength. You can see tangible results from this therapy and prevent any signs of disability. After you regain your strength, PT professionals recommend you follow daily exercises for a period of time to avoid any complications in the future.

Read More:- Can Music Help With Mental Health? Discovering The Power Of Music


In conclusion, both therapies are considered to be effective in various situations. Be it an accident, illness, surgery, or neurological condition, therapy helps to bring flexibility to your muscles. The collaborative work of these therapies can help eradicate the stem of patients’ problems. PT professionals and OT professionals can be found in the gym, outpatient clinic, rehabilitation centers, or hospitals. 

Wishing for a functional and pain-free movement of your body is basic in nature and can be achieved with a little therapy. Every case is different from one another and may require one or more collaborative approaches to the therapy. With the proper diagnosis of your situation and the right therapy, you can have physical and emotional well-being. 

About the Author

Nicole Carter is a dedicated and passionate nutritionist, committed to helping individuals achieve their health and wellness goals through the power of proper nutrition. With a Bachelor's degree in Nutritional Science and years of practical experience.

Leave a Comment