Difference Between Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy

Since both are focused on imparting therapy, and share a couple of common areas, the line between occupational therapy and physiotherapy can often get blurred. However, they are two fundamentally separate concepts and their target and method is different from one other.

Firstly, physiotherapy is focused on the evaluation and maintenance of the physical functions in a human body, and will generally deal with factors like injury, muscles, and bones, in order to ensure the healthy functioning of the body. However, occupational therapy limits itself to aiding the patient in dealing with physical functions that are inhibiting her/his ability to perform tasks that are necessary for her/his occupation (work) or well-being (welfare).

In this sense, it is clear that physiotherapy focuses solely on the physical aspects of a patient’s health – e.g. dealing with any malfunctions in the muscles, limbs, and bones – while occupational therapy also focuses on the mental, psychological, and emotional well-being of a patient, since the aim is to ensure the patient’s overall well-being. Physiotherapists will work with patients who have sustained injuries or suffered conditions like paralysis and strokes, while an occupational therapist will deal with issues like stress, lack of motivation, and depression – anything that is affecting your experience on the job or your daily life.

Physiotherapists will generally prescribe medicines to patients – they are educated in the human anatomy, and other areas like the musculoskeletal system, and so are qualified to heal and prevent injuries. Thus, a physiotherapist might prescribe medicine, e.g. to heal damaged tissues, and use other methods of treatment like massages and exercises. An occupational therapist, on the other hand, will not deal with physical injuries or prescribe medicines – s/he will be more focused on enhancing an individual’s functional abilities, and figuring out how the patient can lead an optimal life, even if s/he is suffering from any injuries or disabilities.


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    An important healthcare profession, physiotherapy is practiced by trained and licensed physical therapists who focus on the remedy of disabilities or impairments, by examining, evaluating, diagnosing, and then treating patients through a variety of methods, such as massage, exercise, and medication.

    Image courtesy: keralaphysiotherapy.com

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    Occupational therapy

    Often abbreviated as OT, occupational therapy focuses on the individual goals of the client, and on enhancing the patient’s participation and execution of daily tasks and activities. This type of therapy works to use a variety of treatments (like teaching a skill, helping adapt to an environment, etc) in order to develop, maintain, or recover the daily work and living skills of a patient, while dealing with a mental, developmental, or physical condition.

    Image courtesy: prlog.org

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