Many people are unaware about the differences between occupational therapy and physical therapy. Most of them have confusion about these two separate streams of treatment. Some of them think that occupational therapy and physical therapy are one and the same. There are significant differences between these two streams of treatment. There are also grey areas where overlapping of these two professions takes place. The areas where they are similar and the areas where they are separate are discussed in detailed below.
Occupational therapy is focused more on evaluation and improvisation of a person’s functional abilities. Unlike physical therapy no steps are taken to treat the person’s injury with the help of techniques like manual therapy, acupuncture, exercise therapy, electro therapy etc. In occupational therapy the therapist helps the patient to optimize his capacity to accomplish daily tasks which have been hampered following an injury or situations leading to physical impairment. Occupational therapist makes on-sight assessments regarding home environment as well as work environment and recommends suitable adaptations for improving or leading better life. He is trained in modifying physical environment or training person to use some assistive equipment and increase independence.
Physical therapy is the synonym for physiotherapy in many parts of the world. This treatment is more focused at improving movement function of the patient and treating physical injury itself. While an occupational therapist is doing diagnosis, the physical therapist is keener on treatment of physical source in associated with the problem. Both these categories of doctors are trained in human anatomy and musculoskeletal system. So they are very knowledgeable in musculoskeletal injuries and strictures. They are also more knowledgeable about the rehabilitation of such patient than a general medical practitioner.
Occupational therapy and physical therapy – Overlapping areas
Although these streams have differences in their focus, there is much crossover also between OT and PT. An occupational therapist is engaged in educating people about the healing process. The same thing is done by a physical therapist also. Similarly a physical therapist helps people for better utilization of their ability to carry out their daily chores of life through training and education. Even though there is cross over between these two categories of doctors, each of them has his own specialized area of expertise and operation.