Monday, October 12, 2009

How Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy Differ

Although both types of therapy help kids improve the quality of their lives, there are differences. Physical therapy deals with the issues of pain, strength, joint range of motion, endurance, and gross motor functioning, whereas occupational therapy deals more with fine motor skills, visual-perceptual skills, cognitive skills, and sensory-processing deficits.

Occupational Therapy Practitioners

There are two professional levels of occupational practice — occupational therapist (OT) and occupational therapist assistant (OTA).

Since 2007, an occupational therapist (OT) is required to complete a master's degree program. Before 2007, only a bachelor's degree was required.

An occupational therapist assistant is only required to complete an associate's degree program. OTAs are able to carry out treatment plans developed by the occupational therapist but can't complete evaluations.

All occupational therapy practitioners must complete supervised fieldwork programs and pass a national certification examination. Most states also require a license to practice and require occupational therapy practitioners to take continuing education classes throughout their careers to maintain that licensure.

Occupational therapists work in a variety of settings, including:

  • hospitals
  • schools
  • rehabilitation centers
  • mental health facilities
  • private practices
  • children's clinics
  • nursing homes

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