OT and PT differences

While occupational therapists and physiotherapists often work with clients with comparable conditions in shared settings, each discipline is unique in terms of academic preparation, expertise, knowledge and interventions. As a result, each profession has a specific scope of practice and a distinct license to practice.

In general, Physiotherapists assess and treat specific areas of the body to improve physical functions like strength, movement, balance, and the quality and safety of mobility, ensuring their clients can participate in the physical activities they want and need to do. For example, using specific exercises, a physiotherapist might help a client improve their walking, stair climbing, and ability to pick up their child following a stroke.

In comparison, the role of an occupational therapist is more broadly focused on enhancing the ability of clients to engage in daily occupations or tasks of daily life. Using the same example of an individual who has sustained a stroke, an occupational therapist might work with the client and their family to learn new ways of completing daily routines at home, like getting dressed and taking a shower, and suggest changes in the kitchen so that the client is able to safely prepare a meal.