Similarities and differences between Physical Therapists & Occupational Therapists

PT and OT: The overlap, relationship, and distinctions


Both Physical Therapists (PTs) and Occupational Therapists (OTs) work with their patients to deliver hands-on rehabilitative care to heal injuries or care for movement disabilities. Some may even think the two professions are synonymous. While there are areas in which they overlap, there are also significant differences between the two professions.

PTs primarily work to prevent or heal injuries. The goal is to get patients back in motion through exercise, massage and other techniques. PTs evaluate or diagnose movement dysfunctions and then treat the injured tissues and structures. Physical Therapy is usually performed in a PT’s office and can prevent surgery or long-term reliance on medications.

An OT’s goal is to help clients optimize their independence and their ability to accomplish daily activities with disability or following an injury. They work to improve client independence and their ability to accomplish daily activities following an injury or in situations of physical impairment. Some OTs practice in a hospital or office, but often they’ll practice in the patient’s home or work to modify the environment to create a better quality of life.

Between PTs and OTs, there is plenty of mutual ground. Both professions educate clients on injury prevention and the healing process and work to improve client movement and quality of life. In many cases, both PTs and OTs are essential to injury recovery.


If you’re a PT or OT, consider using your skills to give back to our nation’s Veterans. Consider a career with VA and experience a committed, passionate community and play an integral role in our Veterans’ lives. Search career opportunities for Occupational Therapists and Physical Therapists today.


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  1. Teresa Aguilar    

    Please add me to your blog list.

    1. Gary Hicks    


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