Physical Therapy vs Occupational Therapy

When you are considering a career in the field of occupational therapy, you may have wondered, what is the difference between occupational therapy and physical therapy? Occupational therapy and physical therapy seem very similar in scope, but there are some key differences between the two professions. Both types of therapists work one-on-one with patients to increase mobility and reduce the risk of injury. However, occupational therapists focuses on overall health and wellness so that the individual and may take a more holistic approach to restore functioning. Learning about the difference between occupational vs. physical therapy can help you decide which career path is right for you.


Understanding the Difference Between Occupational and Physical Therapy

You can learn about the difference between occupational vs. physical therapy when reviewing majors in the field and selecting your school. Both physical therapists and occupational therapists work towards restoring functioning of various joints, muscles and body parts after an injury or when recovering from disease. However, occupational therapists tend to focus on the mental health aspect of recovery as well, and want to restore complete functioning of the body so that the patient can perform everyday activities and work-related tasks (occupations) with ease.

You can find information about physical therapy vs. occupational therapy in college career guides and also discuss some of the key differences with your college advisor before you enroll in a program. Take some time to consider the pros and cons of a physical therapy vs. occupational therapy degree program, and what you want to get out of your educational track in the long-term. If you are genuinely interested in psychology and mental health recovery approaches, the career path towards becoming an occupational therapist may be the best fit for you.

How Do Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy Differ?

Many individuals interested in pursuing a career in the healthcare profession want to know what the difference between occupational therapy and physical therapy is. Here are some of the key differences between the two professions:

  • Physical therapy typically focuses on a specific body part, while occupational therapy focuses on overall health and increasing mobility in the entire body.
  • Occupational therapy is typically associated with hospital-based practices and is often a part of a treatment program.
  • Physical therapy may be needed as lifelong treatment for those who are disabled.
  • Occupational therapy has a mental health component that may address issues of drug addiction, mood disorders, personality disorders and even schizophrenia.
  • Occupational therapists may help individuals with daily planning, home chores and building social skills

The fields of occupational therapy and physical therapy have very similar characteristics, but there are also some key differences to consider when you are deciding whether to get an occupational therapy degree or a physical therapy degree. Both professions give you the opportunity to work directly with patients and improve their quality of life. Patients who need to cope with various mental health issues as they heal and recovery may seek out the help of an occupational therapist instead of a physical therapist. Physical therapists are often assigned to individuals who are permanently disabled, or need to maintain good health after a serious accident or injury.