How are PT and OT different?
Physical and occupational therapy are both professions that work to prevent
disability and improve quality of life, but they are not the same.
Below are the governing bodies’ definitions of each profession.
Occupational therapy: “Occupational therapy is the only profession that helps people
across the lifespan to do the things they want and need to do through the
therapeutic use of daily activities (occupations). Occupational therapy practitioners
enable people of all ages to live life to its fullest by helping them promote health, and
prevent—or live better with—injury, illness, or disability (AOTA, 2020).”
Physical therapy: “Physical therapists teach patients how to prevent or manage their
condition so that they will achieve long-term health benefits. PTs examine each
individual and develop a plan, using treatment techniques to promote the ability to
move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability. In addition, PTs work
with individuals to prevent the loss of mobility before it occurs by developing
fitness- and wellness-oriented programs for healthier and more active lifestyles.”
For example, if a client comes into the clinic after having a stroke they will likely see
both PT and OT. With PT, they may be addressing safe walking and improving
deficits in movement and strength. With OT, they may be working on similar deficits
of movement in strength, but through the lens of participating in daily occupations
such as cooking, cleaning, and working.
American Occupational Therapy Association [AOTA]. (2020). What is occupational therapy? https://www.aota.org/Conference-Events/OTMonth/what-is-OT.aspx
American Physical Therapy Association [APTA]. (2020). Who are physical therapists? http://www.apta.org/AboutPTs/