What is the Difference Between Physical and Occupational Therapy?

 What is the Difference Between Physical and Occupational Therapy?

Did you know that the job outlook for both physical and occupational therapists is expected to continue to grow over the coming years? With an aging population, the need for these jobs will continue to grow and if you’re looking to get into these fields, you need education. 

However, what is the difference between physical and occupational therapy? These fields cross paths a lot, and knowing the difference can help you decide which field you are interested in pursuing. 

Keep reading to learn the difference between the two types of therapy. 

What Is a Physical Therapist? 

A physical therapist will help treat impairment. This impairment may affect your ability to function in your daily life. 

Physical therapists often help with injury recovery. In doing this, they help with your ability to move. However, the role of a physical therapist does not stop there. 

PT can also help with: 

  • Reducing pain
  • Improving gross motor skills
  • Promoting function
  • Promoting independence
  • Help prevent disability

A physical therapist will often work through teaching you different exercises that treat the affected parts of your body.

For example, if you break your wrist, you may visit a physical therapist after your wrist has healed, and they will teach you strengthening exercises to help restore your movement and functioning. 

What Is an Occupational Therapist? 

The focus of an occupational therapist varies from that of a physical therapist. Their goal is to modify or change the activities of daily living that you need or want to do. 

For example, if you have Parkinson’s disease, you may struggle with feeding yourself due to shaking hands. To address this an occupational therapist may recommend a weighted spoon. 

This weighted spoon would have a bigger handle making it easier to grip and would also help to decrease shaking due to the weight. While this is an example, individuals with Parkinson’s actually have the opportunity for a unique type of therapy called LSVT Big

This type of therapy combines occupational and physical therapy techniques to help individuals with Parkinson’s live a full life. Essentially, an occupational therapist is going to help someone learn how to overcome their limitations to perform activities of daily living. 

This makes the role of an occupational therapist that of a problem solver. You may have a condition that affects your ability to perform a function, so how do you work around that? You can learn the answer to that with the help of an occupational therapist. 

What Is the Difference Between Physical and Occupational Therapy? 

Whether you are seeking therapy for adults or therapy for children, there are distinct differences between physical therapists and occupational therapists. 

While physical therapists seek to restore function, occupational therapists come in and say, how can we adapt so that the level of functioning you currently have works for you?

Start Your Education

If you’re seeking to enter either of these fields, knowing the answer to the question “what is the difference between physical and occupational therapy” is essential. It will help you make the right decision as you seek to start your education in either field. 

Was this article helpful? Keep exploring more topics like this in the education section of our website. 

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