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People often confuse physical therapy and occupational therapy, but they are actually two very different things. Occupational therapy (OT) helps people of any age participate in daily living, such as the everyday tasks and activities we all take for granted. Occupational therapists focus on what you want and need to do in your day-to-day life by using everyday life activities to promote health, well-being, and the ability to participate in things that are important to you. This includes working, caring for yourself and others, attending school, and several other activities. There are many undeniable benefits of occupational therapy, and we’ll take a look at them in this article.

Differences Between Physical Therapy (PT) and Occupational Therapy (OT)

Before we get into the many benefits of OT, let’s compare the differences between occupational therapy and physical therapy. 

Area of focus

Occupational therapy focuses on treating patients recovering from a wide range of physical, emotional, mental, and developmental afflictions that affect a person’s ability to perform daily tasks. Physical therapy, on the other hand, focuses on treating people who had an injury or illness that led to pain and issues with muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, and joints.

Conditions and injuries treated

Occupational therapists often work with patients who have the following conditions, disorders, or injuries:

Physical therapists treat patients with different types of injuries and conditions, including:

End goals

There are some similarities in the end goals of both occupational and physical therapy. The primary goal of each type of therapy, obviously, is to make the patient feel better and more comfortable. However, there are more specific goals involved with each type of therapy.

Occupational therapy aims to provide the patient with the ability to live an independent life. This might involve teaching a patient how to perform certain everyday tasks, promote independence, and enhance quality of life. Specifics will vary by patient and condition, but some examples include:

Physical therapy’s overall goal is to manage pain, increase endurance, build strength, and improve flexibility and range of motion. More specific PT goals of treatment will vary by individual.  Check out Part II to learn the benefits of occupational therapy and decide if this might be the best next steps.


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