Difference Between Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy

Occupational Therapy And Physiotherapy therapies are given to people. These therapies are often given to people with mental problems, disabilities and injuries; it is done for the betterment of their health.

Both the therapies are professionally done for health care but they both are done in different situations and by different therapists.

Occupational Therapy vs Physiotherapy

The main difference between Occupational Therapy And Physiotherapy is that Occupational therapy focuses on fine motor skills, which are the daily life things a person do like eating, brushing, etc. While Physiotherapy focuses on gross motor skills which are full-body movements like standing, walking, etc.

Occupational Therapy vs Physiotherapy

Occupational therapy develops, recovers, and maintains the movements of the small muscles of the body.

Occupational therapy helps children and adults with disabilities or injuries to regain their composure on their body muscles to be able to do the basic things of daily life. They are given therapy to improve their self-care tasks like brushing teeth, eating.

Physiotherapy is the therapy that recovers and maintains the movements of the large muscles of the human body. It is a therapy that restores health through diagnosis, physical examination, rehabilitation, and physical intervention.

It helps to recover full-body movements like standing, running, sitting, etc. It is day-to-day healthcare that should be provided by health care providers.

Comparison Table Between Occupational Therapy And Physiotherapy

Parameters of ComparisonOccupational TherapyPhysical Therapy
DefinitionOccupational therapy develops, recovers, and maintains the movements of the small body muscles.Physiotherapy is the therapy that recovers and maintains the movements of the large body muscles.
FocusOccupational therapy focuses on fine motor skills.Physiotherapy focuses on gross motor skills.
AimTo restore functional abilities and self-care skills.To restore movement/ mobility of the full body.
Who needs it? Patients with autism, cerebral palsy, down syndromes, etc.Patients with a fracture, an injury and long-term health problems, etc
ToolsExercise, practice, medication etc.Exercise, Stimulations, massages, stretching, etc.

What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapy is a professional healthcare facility provides by certified doctors. A doctor who is specialized in occupational therapy is known as an Occupational Therapist.

Indeed, these therapists are also known as masters of activity analysis and adaptation. Occupational therapy is provided to people with mental health problems, impairments, disabilities, and injuries.

Occupational therapy recovers and re-develops the fine motor skills in a person. Fine motor skills are the skills or movements of the small muscles of the human body. These skills being, eating, brushing, opening a box, getting dressed, writing, drawing, typing, using things like a cello tape or a scissor, tying shoelaces, etc.

Occupational therapy is given to help a person regain their coordination skills, cognitive skills, Hand-eye coordination, body awareness, posture control, and balance.

Treatment is given by creating treatments based upon the patient’s interests and needs.

This therapy is given to both children and adults to help children with disabilities to participate fully in school and help adults being coordinative with their physical and cognitive skills

The therapy is practiced all around the world. There is a world federation of occupational therapists. The therapy is seen in use to treat people from c. 100 BCE by greek physicians using massages, bath, exercise, and music as treatment and therapy.

What is Physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy is the healthcare profession of redeveloping and regaining the full-body movements of a human body. Physiotherapy is also called physical therapy.

Certified doctors with specializations in physical therapies are known as physiotherapists.

Physical therapy is done to maintain, or restore health through physical examination, physical intervention, rehabilitation, patient education, disease prevention, and diagnosis as well. Sometimes, with a record of the patient’s medical record, medication is also given in the physical therapy.

Physical therapy focuses on the large muscles of the human body which are responsible for full-body movements like walking, running, etc.

The aim of physical therapy is to on the gross motor skills of an individual and to increase mobility and function. The therapy is started by giving medication and exercises to relieve pain and swelling.

And then the therapy is given to help the patient with flexibility, strength, endurance, coordination, and balance. It includes exercises, massages, manual therapy, and stimulation of heat, cold, water, or electric.

Physical therapy focuses on a specific part of the body that is disabled after an injury and fracture or long-term health problems like back pain, multiple sclerosis, spinal stenosis, Parkinson’s disease, etc.

Physical therapy was first seen to be practiced in the age of Pericles by Greek physician Hippocrates who is known as the father of medicine.

Main Differences Between Occupational Therapy And Physiotherapy

  1. Occupational therapy focuses on fine motor skills while physiotherapy focuses on gross motor skills.
  2.  Occupation therapy is to redevelop an individual’s ability to participate in daily-life functional tasks like brushing, eating, etc while Physiotherapy is to redevelop full-body movements like Running, standing, etc.
  3. Occupation therapy focuses on the movements of small body muscles while Physiotherapy focuses on the movement of large body muscles.
  4. Occupational Therapy helps patients with autism, cerebral palsy, down syndromes, dementia, personality or behavioral disorders, etc. On the other hand, Physical therapy helps patients with a fracture, torn ligament, or an injury and long-term health problems like back pain, etc.
  5. Occupational therapy focuses on regaining functions of all the body small muscles while Physical therapy focuses on a specific part of the body to regain its movement.
Difference Between Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy


Both the therapies help the people with disabilities of body muscles in their life in every aspect of well-being physically, socially, and emotionally. The aim is to improve health as well as the quality of life.

Although the therapies sound the same they are not, however, occupational therapists and physiotherapists have to work together with each other in many cases.

Occupational therapy is the therapy to redevelop and recover the movement of the small body muscles and help the person to do the self-care tasks effectively like a normal person.

These tasks include daily life things like brushing, eating, cutting nails, writing, using scissors, etc.

Physiotherapy is the therapy to recover large muscles body movements or gross motor skills. These skills being standing, sitting, walking, etc. Physiotherapy is primary care healthcare that is done through diagnosis and physical intervention.


  1. https://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/asahp/jah/2006/00000035/00000002/art00008
  2. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/030802269906200406
  3. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13561820220104140
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