Main Differences Between Physical and Occupation Therapy

Welcome to this information piece about the difference between occupational therapy vs physical therapy. While both forms of treatment used to help a person regain their independence, there are some main differences between occupation and physical therapy. While many people think these fields are interchangeable, there are some main differences between the area of profession and physical therapy.

What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapy is an approach to health that will allow a person to perform meaningful physical activities throughout their life. The physical demands of a person will change as they age, and these movements will help the body adjust to the changes. The occupational therapist will look at improving the overall health of a person and their well-being. They will not focus on just one specific area of the body,

What is Physical Therapy?

Physical therapy is the repair or the remediation of impaired body parts due to a disability or injury. The goal of physical therapy is to improve mobility, improve specific functional abilities, and allow a person to have a higher quality of life due to an increased range of motion. The physical therapist will often focus on a specific area of the body that is causing a person’s pain or harm.

The focus of Occupational Therapy

The focus on occupational therapy is to help people live independently as long as they possibly can. They are also looking to restore functioning to the body, especially as a person gets older. Occupational therapists work on a range of daily living skills, including brush the teeth, combing the hair, using the restroom independently, and related tasks.

The Focus of Physical Therapy

The focus of physical therapy is to help a person increase their mobility and will help a person get relief from pain in a specific area of their body. This therapy designed to help restore movement and mobility. A person will be able to stand and walk without pain, for example.

Who Will Benefit From Occupational Therapy?

People that have mental or physical impairments can benefit from working with an occupational therapist. People, including small children with developmental disabilities, can benefit from this form of therapy. If a person had a stroke or other serious injury, occupational therapy could help them with their physical recovery. Those that have health conditions such as arthritis can benefit from occupational therapy.

Who Will Benefit from Physical Therapy?

If a person is injured or if they have a long term health problem, including back pain, multiple sclerosis, or osteoarthritis, they can benefit from the services of a physical therapist. If a person was in an accident, they could also benefit from this therapy.

Occupation Therapy vs Physical Therapy Differences

While these services both will help increase movement, there are some main differences between occupational therapy vs physical therapy. An occupational therapist is looking to help a person improve their overall health and will focus on ways to treat the entire body. They want to find methods that will enhance the mobility of their patients and allow them to remain independent. The physical therapy field will help improve movement in a specific part of the body. If a person works with an occupation or a physical therapist, they will be working towards the goal of improving their mobility and functions. The occupational therapist will help a person feel comfortable and will help them with their physical limitations. The physical therapist will help restore movement in a specific area of the body.

Overlapping Services

While there are differences in occupational therapy vs physical therapy, there are times when these fields overlap based on individual needs. Both therapy fields will help educate people on universal injury prevention. They will also keep a person informed about the healing process. Both therapies will help improve mobility and daily functional movements.


When a person is injured or in pain, they may be looking at occupational vs. physical therapy both therapies can help a person with their movement. Occupational therapy is looking at the whole person and improving their overall well-being. Physical therapy will look at the injury from a biochemical perspective and use these methods as their primary form of treatment.

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