Occupational Therapy vs Physical Therapy: What’s the Difference?


Both occupational and physical therapists work to help people overcome physical disabilities, pain, and other health issues that interfere with performing everyday activities. They may also work with people to prevent them from losing their independence. 

Disabilities take many forms and may be physical, mental, or both. They may be acute (caused by a sudden injury or medical problem) or chronic (the result of a long-term illness or condition). Some conditions make it hard for people to use their limbs or muscles. These include paralysis, spasms, and other problems associated with muscle weakness, such as multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy. 

While occupational therapy and physical therapy may sound similar and share the common goal of helping people with a myriad of conditions, they are distinct fields that focus on specific pain points, diagnosis, and treatment approaches. 

Occupational vs Physical Therapy: Which is the Right One for You?

The Basics on Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy is the practice of helping people with disabilities enjoy the things they do on a regular basis while improving their independence. 

Occupational therapists work with people of all ages, from small children to seniors, in a wide range of settings. They work with all kinds of disabilities, injuries, and illnesses, from chronic conditions such as multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy to acute injuries such as burns and fractures, and many in between.

Occupational therapists help people develop skills and strategies to make sure people can participate in everyday activities. They work in the workplace, home, school, and other settings. They may help people develop ways to do tasks and regain skills. 

They also may help people improve their quality of life by helping them design and make adaptations to their homes, go to school, or return to work. By tailoring the treatment program according to the patient’s unique needs, an occupational therapist can help the person reengage in daily activities. 

The Basics on Physical Therapy

Physical therapists work to help people regain the use of their bodies after an injury or to prevent them from losing the use of their bodies. They also help people get back to their daily activities after an injury, illness, or surgery. They can help people improve mobility and reduce pain and other symptoms.

Physical therapists work with many types of conditions, including low-back pain, arthritis, other musculoskeletal problems, and sports injuries. They work with people of all ages and in a variety of settings.

They help people get better using a wide range of evidence-based tools and therapies. These include improving strength, balance, coordination, and flexibility with exercise, as well as providing manual therapy and other hands-on treatments.

The Bottom Line: How to Choose a Physical or Occupational Therapist 

Since both occupational and physical therapists assist people with restoration and adaptation, their core roles are very similar. The two can work in close coordination with each other, or even as part of the same team in a medical facility or at a rehabilitation center.

The major difference between physical therapy and occupational therapy is the focus. Their areas of expertise may overlap, but each has a specific area of focus, so it’s important to identify your needs to get the appropriate treatment for your recovery journey. 

How Can We Help You?

Telemedicine is quickly gaining momentum, and it’s only right that you maximize these services, especially when we’re still amid the pandemic. Besides, this is slowly becoming the standard of the medical industry. 

Fortunately, Agile Urgent Care offers telemedicine in New Jersey, providing patients with quick access to medical providers and nurses that could help them with their medical needs. From adult care to child care, travel medicine to telemedicine — we’ve got you covered. 

Need medical assistance? Give us a call at 201-381-4800 today!

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