Physical therapists help individuals work on the mobility of the large motor groups that involve walking, reaching for things and other routine physical activities, according to Greater Baltimore Medical Center. Physical therapists also deal with pain management and help patients to get stronger and improve their range of motion or balance.
Occupational therapists, on the other hand, focus on helping individuals to achieve independence by teaching them to do the specific daily tasks necessary for self-care, according to GBMC. This includes getting dressed, combing hair, shaving or brushing teeth.
Both physical therapists and occupational therapists help patients who have limiting disabilities or injuries, but physical therapists more often work with patients who are recovering from accidents or injuries, says AlliedHealthSchools.com. The main goal of the physical therapist is to use exercise techniques and other therapies to restore a person's physical abilities. This often includes training the patient on how to naturally avoid further injury.
Occupational therapists often work with patients who have a condition or an injury that affects their cognitive or motor skills, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. This type of therapy focuses more on the practical aspects of a patient's day-to-day activities so they can function as optimally and as independently as possible in their lives.