The physical therapy profession (also called 'physiotherapy' in many parts of the world) tends to be more focused on evaluating and diagnosing movement dysfunctions as well as treating a person's injury itself. While an occupational therapist will often also do diagnosis, the physical therapist will be more likely to diagnose and treat the physical source of the problem; the injured tissues and structures.
Both physical and occupational therapists are trained extensively in anatomy and the musculoskeletal system resulting in both being very knowledgeable about musculoskeletal injuries and rehabilitation than a general practitioner medical doctor.
As compared with Physical Therapy, occupational therapy tends to focus more on evaluating and improving a persons functional abilities. An occupational therapist often does not directly treat a person's injury using techniques such as manual therapy or acupuncture like a physical therapist would but more commonly helps a person optimize their independence and their ability to accomplish their daily activities following an injury or in situations of physical impairment.
Occupational therapists often will directly treat injuries, but more even often occupational therapy focuses more on improving life skills and incorporating adaptive tools at times customized by the therapist. In some parts of the world occupational therapists utilize practices such as use of ultrasound in injury rehabilitation, much like a physical therapist does.
Helping people improve their ability to carry out their daily tasks is a prime goal of the occupational therapist. An OT is more likely to perform on-site assessments of both the home environment and work environment and give recommendations on suitable adaptations of each to allow for a better quality of life. The occupational therapist is trained to modifying the physical environment as well as training the person to use assistive equipment to increase independence. While physical therapists do on-site assessments as well this tends to be less common.
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