Physiotherapy vs. Occupational Therapy: Which One Do I Need?

Sep 6, 2022 | 0 comments

Physiotherapy vs. Occupational Therapy: what are the main differences?

Physiotherapy and occupational therapy are regarded as two kinds of rehabilitative care. The objective of rehabilitative care is to enhance or stop the worsening of your condition or quality of life because of an injury, surgery, or sickness. Physiotherapy vs. occupational therapy is a crucial question for most patients.

While they have some common points, there are also significant differences.

Physical therapy, also referred to as PT, concentrates on helping enhance your movement, mobility, and function. A physical therapist may do this by employing a diversity of exercises, stretches, or other physical activities.

For example, someone who has undergone knee replacement surgery may see a physical therapist as part of their healing.

The physical therapist will cooperate with the patient to assist in strengthening their knee and raising the range of motion in their knee joint. This can contribute to them moving more easily with less pain and soreness.

Occupational therapy, also referred to as OT, concentrates on helping you do daily tasks more easily. This type of therapy concentrates on enhancing your fine and gross motor skills so you can perform particular day-to-day activities. The occupational therapist will also pay attention to making your home or school environment more favorable for your everyday life.

For example, an occupational therapist may help someone recuperating from a stroke learn how to do daily tasks, such as dressing or eating with utensils.

Physiotherapy vs. Occupational Therapy: what are the similarities?

Despite their differences, there are some similarities between PT and OT. These include:

  • General purpose: PT and OT both try to enhance your general performance, quality of life, and knowledge about how to retain your health and well-being.
  • Conditions: There’s a remarkable overlap with the health conditions for which both therapies may be suggested.
  • Design: Both types of therapy offer action-oriented care that’s suitable for to patient’s particular needs.
  • Tasks: There can be some overlap in the duties carried out. For instance, occupational therapists may also train stretches or exercises. Physical therapists may focus on movements to aid with daily activities, like getting in and out of the tub.
  • Objectives and monitoring: Both types of therapy determine objectives and evaluate your progress as you work to accomplish them.

Now that the differences and similarities between PT and OT are explained, let’s explain in detail what a physical therapist does.

What are the objectives of physical therapy?

physical therapy

The general purposes of PT include:

  • Boosting or restoring movement, strength, and range of motion
  • lowering pain
  • Stopping your condition from worsening
  • Teaching you ways to keep your general fitness and functionality

PT is often suggested when a condition influences your movement or range of motion. PT can be adopted for:

  • enhancing mobility after an injury
  • recuperation after a surgical procedure
  • pain management
  • joint conditions including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis
  • neurological conditions such as numerous sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and recuperation after a stroke
  • hand conditions including carpal tunnel syndrome and trigger finger
  • urinary incontinence
  • lung conditions including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cystic fibrosis
  • heart conditions including heart failure and recuperation after a heart attack
  • cancer

What type of therapy can you expect?

The type of therapy you’ll need will be suitable for your specific needs. The physical therapist will carefully examine your medical history and existing health condition to create a plan and set goals for your therapy.

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Physical therapists use a diversity of techniques, including:

  • targeted exercises
  • stretching
  • hands-on manipulation
  • application of hot and cold
  • massage
  • ultrasound
  • electrical stimulation

Where can you get physical therapy?

get physical therapy

Physical therapists work in different locations, including but not restricted to:

  • outpatient clinics or offices
  • inpatient equipment including hospitals and nursing homes
  • home health agencies
  • schools
  • fitness centers

What does an occupational therapist do?

Now let’s focus on OT a little more carefully and what it entails.

What are the purposes of occupational therapy?

The comprehensive purposes of OT are to:

  • Increase your ability to safely and efficiently carry out different daily tasks
  • Upgrade independence and productivity
  • Teach caregivers how to assist someone who is undergoing OT

OT may be suggested when a condition or sickness impacts your ability to do different day-to-day tasks. Some examples of conditions that OT may be employed for include:

  • recuperation from an injury or surgery
  • pain management
  • neurological conditions including numerous sclerosis, cerebral palsy, or recuperation from a stroke
  • joint conditions including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
  • hand conditions including carpal tunnel syndrome and trigger finger
  • developmental conditions including autism spectrum disorder (ASD), learning disorders, and intellectual disabilities
  • psychological conditions including depression and anxiety
  • dementia or Alzheimer’s disease

The occupational therapist will examine your medical background and your condition to distinguish what your needs are. Then, they’ll employ this information to create a therapy plan and set specific purposes.

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Some of the issues that may be included as part of OT are:

  • helping you learn or relearn how to carry out daily tasks including getting dressed, eating, and bathing
  • evaluating your home, school, or workplace to recognize ways to facilitate your daily tasks
  • educating you on how to utilize assistive devices like wheelchairs and walkers
  • helping you with tasks that need fine motor skills like writing or buttoning a shirt
  • teaching you methods to safely get into and out of chairs, your bed, or the bathtub
  • teaching you exercises you can carry out to help raise flexibility or decrease pain
  • Helping you with programs that assist you in going back to work
  • Teaching you strategies for handling stress
  • Teaching your loved ones and caregivers how to efficiently help you in your day-to-day life

Physiotherapy vs. Occupational Therapy: Which one do I need?

So how do you know which kind of therapy is necessary for you? That depends on your condition and your particular needs.

If you have a condition that’s influencing your ability to walk or move a body part without pain, you may need a physical therapist. They can work with you to decrease pain and enhance your mobility, strength, and range of motion via targeted exercises, stretches, and other methods.

Or maybe you’ve found that you’re having a hard time carrying out daily tasks including picking up objects or getting dressed. In this case, working with an occupational therapist could assist in promoting the motor skills required for these particular tasks.

It’s significant to discuss with your doctor the type of therapy that’s right for you. They can help explain the advantages of each therapy, and which one is right for your particular needs.


Physiotherapy vs. occupational therapy is a critical concern for most patients and they do not know which one to select. First, you should know the definition of each and then which parts and needs they cover.

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