Occupational therapy and physical therapy are two different methods of ensuring good health. While occupational therapy deals with keeping a person, mostly with limitations and disabilities, occupied, physical therapy is mainly concerned with ensuring maximum movement and functional ability. Read on to know more about these therapies.

We usually find inmates of institutions for differently abled children or adults engrossed in some constructive activity. By observing closely, it can be realized that these activities are meant to keep them occupied. They undergo occupational therapy, that helps them cope better with their ‘special’ problems. Sometimes on account of a surgery or an injury, people undergo exercise, for the recovery of the affected body part. It mostly happens in case of limbs, for instance, a knee replacement. Such kind of therapy is Physical therapy.


According to the World Federation of Occupational Therapists, Occupational Therapy (OT) is defined as a profession concerned with promoting health and well being through occupation. There is a definite process that is followed by occupational therapists. It is called the Occupational Therapy Process. The stages of this process are referral, information gathering, initial assessment, requires problem identification, goal setting, action planning, ongoing assessment and revision of action, outcome and outcome measurement, end of intervention or discharge and review. Occupational Therapy is widely used in physical, mental and community health settings.


It is most closely associated with hospital-based occupational therapy for children, schools and community. As OT delivers treatment through occupation, a therapy given to a child will differ from a therapy for an adult. This is because of the difference in the things, which keeps both the age groups occupied. Amongst other factors, the most common conditions generating a need for OT services include autism, developmental disorders, fine motor development delays and emotional and behavioral disturbances. OT also plays a significant role in case of a major traumatic injury. It helps to recover, as it facilitates early mobilization, restores function and prevents worsening of the patient’s condition. In case of the aged, OT can actually help elderly people to lead a good life.


OT in the field of mental health addresses issues of schizophrenia, drug addiction, mood disorders, dementia, anxiety disorders and personality disorders. Small chores like keeping a daily planner, managing money, buildings social skills and increasing community participation are taught by the therapist to the patient with mental disorder.Community based OT includes working with people in their environment (home or office). It could include day-care centers, schools, driving centers, shelters for the homeless and refugee camps.


Physical Therapy (PT) is concerned with providing services, where functions and movements are hampered by injury, disease, or environmental factors. It covers physical, social, psychological and emotional well being of an individual. Physical therapy is used to give maximum mobility and functional ability throughout the life of a person. Basically, it involves focusing on a specific part, which has undergone trauma, for example a fracture or a torn ligament and giving it certain kind of exercises. In the early days of physical therapy, it was only restricted to exercise, massage and traction.

There are areas of specialization for physical therapists as well. They are Cardiopulmonary, Geriatric, Neurological, Orthopedic, Pediatric and Integumentary. It is usually performed by a trained physical therapist or an assistant physical therapist. Different countries have their different criteria for a person to be designated as a trained physical therapist.

To provide a proper physical therapy, an individual’s history and physical status is checked in order to come up with a diagnosis and plan a course of action by the physical therapists. It is practiced in various settings from offices to hospitals to rehabilitation centers, schools, fitness centers and sports training facilities.

Occupational therapy and physical therapy are very much related to each other, as they both solve the purpose of maintaining the health and fitness of the individual. Both of them strive to cover all the aspects of human health – psychological, mental and physical.

In case of a mentally challenged individual experiencing an injury, these therapies working in tandem, can prove to be very helpful. In another situation, if a healthy person encounters an accident and that leads him to some mental disturbance, a combination of these two therapies will act in contributing to his or her overall health.