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Physiotherapist and Occupational Therapist – ​What are the Differences?

A physiotherapist typically treats the physical source of the injury, “impairment”, with the aim to restore and improve mobility and prevent further injury. An occupational therapist’s role is to improve functional abilities whilst carrying out daily life/ activities (i.e. complete everyday activities with the “impairment”.) Occupational therapists can assess and evaluate the client in their environment, as well as trial and prescribe possible assistive equipment. Occupational therapists aim to help clients improve and optimise their independence in completing their daily activities.

A physiotherapist and an occupational therapist can collaborate to achieve optimal recovery for patients. This can be in hospitals, residential facilities and or in private practices. The example described below is based on a rehabilitation patient post hip replacement and discusses the possible roles and areas the physiotherapist and occupational therapist may work on with the client. The physiotherapist would aim to rebuild strength and endurance through exercises whilst an occupational therapist would help the client to relearn daily functional activities. This can include: getting dressed, safe transfer on/off bed and bathroom, and trialling any assistive equipment that the client could use. Both professions can educate the client’s and their families on the injury, the healing process, precautions and prevention of re-injuries. The overall aim of the physiotherapist and the occupational therapist is to restore function and optimise the client’s independence.

Patient Handling works with Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists on a daily basis to find the right product to suit its clients. From pressure cushions to power wheelchairs, a therapist will assist with the best option available.

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