Occupational Therapy vs. Physiotherapy
January 31st, 2022
After going through an illness, injury, or surgery, you might need rehabilitative care which involves occupational therapy, physiotherapy, or both. While both modalities encompass intersecting similarities to improve your condition, they have key differences when it comes to emphasis of care and intervention.
We have outlined here an occupational therapy vs. physiotherapy comparison: their similarities and differences. Read on to learn more.
Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy Similarities
Goal – Both disciplines aim to manage or improve a patient’s quality of life and overall bodily functions after recovering from an injury or illness. Both professions set an objective and monitor and evaluate the client’s progress.
Condition – The type of health conditions treated by occupational therapy and physiotherapy generally overlap.
Approach – Both treatments deliver hands-on treatment that is customized to the client’s particular needs. Professionals also strive to educate the patients on how to properly manage their health issues and optimize their well-being.
Modality – Both therapies teach patients to exercise and stretch to strengthen and relax the muscles and increase the range of movement.
Education – Professionals of both practices extensively studied anatomy and physiology.
Treatment Location – Services can be done at a hospital, rehabilitation clinic, retirement home, long-term care facility, sports medicine clinic, or at the client’s home.
Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy Differences
According to Laura-Beth Falter, Instructor and Faculty Head of the Physiotherapy Assistant program at triOS College, physiotherapy (also known as physical therapy or PT) focuses on the treatment or prevention of a physical injury or condition. This deals with improving a person’s mobility and function, promoting an active lifestyle, and addressing the physical injury.
Examples of client-care tasks under the physical therapy umbrella include:
- administering physical agents and modalities such as hot and cold packs, therapeutic ultrasound, laser, and transcutaneous electrical stimulation
- teaching clients how to properly use their gait aids such as walkers, canes, and crutches
- teaching therapeutic exercise
- running group exercise classes
On the other hand, Falter explained that occupational therapy (otherwise known as OT) aims to help people engage in activities of daily living related to self-care, productivity, and leisure. Occupational therapy focuses on increasing people’s functional abilities instead of healing their injury.
OT-related tasks involve:
- teaching the client how to use their assistive devices such as reachers or dressing aids
- helping the client practice activities of daily living such as cooking, dressing, or grooming
- ensuring a client’s wheelchair is in good condition
- teaching a client how to use a wheelchair
- running group activities such as cooking classes or other life-skill group activities
“Volunteer in a healthcare setting such as a private clinic, hospital, or long-term care facility with the occupational therapy/physiotherapy team to see what the job would be like on a day-to-day basis.”
– Laura-Beth Falter, Instructor and Faculty Head of the Physiotherapy Assistant program at triOS College
Physiotherapy/Occupational Therapy Assistant Jobs
The fastest and easiest way to enter this field is to start as an assistant, in which you can help a patient under the supervision of a licensed therapist. You can also support the therapist by completing administrative tasks such as managing inventory, checking equipment for safety, cleaning treatment areas, and preparing equipment and supplies. All of these tasks ensure the smooth delivery of services.
While you can choose between being a physiotherapy assistant or an occupational therapy assistant, you can get the best of both worlds by specializing in both disciplines as a physiotherapy/occupational therapy (PT/OT) assistant.
When asked for her advice on how to be a successful PT/OT assistant, Falter said, “Volunteer in a healthcare setting such as a private clinic, hospital, or long-term care facility with the occupational therapy/physiotherapy team to see what the job would be like on a day-to-day basis.”
When choosing a college program, she also advised going for a program that is accredited by the Occupational Therapist Assistant and Physiotherapist Assistant Education Accreditation Program (OTA & PTA EAP).
Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy Assistant Salary
According to Job Bank, physiotherapy and occupational therapy assistant in Ontario can earn an average of $18 per hour, which can reach up to $28 per hour.
triOS College offers a 63-week Physiotherapy Assistant/Occupational Therapy Assistant program. It includes a 14-week internship that provides real-world experience to help you become job-ready as soon as you graduate. Accredited by the OTA & PTA EAP, this diploma program can equip you with therapeutic techniques to improve clients’ mobility. You will also learn cognitive skills to assess patients with disabilities, communication disorders, and mental illness.
Click to learn about our Occupational Therapy Assistant or Physiotherapy Assistant programs at triOS. Visit our Physiotherapy Assistant and Occupational Therapy Assistant program page to discover more.