April Is Occupational Therapy Awareness Month!

Published on in CHOP News

From April 11 to 15, CHOP occupational therapists will visit locations around CHOP's campus to raise awareness about occupational therapy (OT) and help members of the CHOP community understand the importance of OT to our patients. Keep a look out for signs if you are interested in participating!

What is occupational therapy?

Occupational therapy (OT) is the use of assessment and treatment to develop, recover or maintain the daily living and work skills of people with a physical, mental or cognitive disorder. Occupational therapists also focus much of their work on identifying and eliminating environmental barriers to independence and participation in daily activities.

OT is a client-centered practice that places emphasis on the progress towards the client's goals. OT interventions focus on adapting the environment, modifying the task, teaching the skill, and educating the client/family in order to increase participation in and performance of daily activities, particularly those that are meaningful to the client. (AOTA, Bureau of Labor Statistics)

What is the difference between OT and PT?

Many people are curious about the relationship between occupational therapy (OT) and physical therapy (PT). There are significant differences between the two professions and there are also many grey areas where the two overlap.

As compared with physical therapy, occupational therapy tends to focus more on evaluating and improving a person’s independence and their ability to accomplish their daily activities following an injury or in situations of physical impairment. OT focuses more on improving life skills and incorporating adaptive tools at times customized by the therapist. Occupational therapists focus on interventions to address upper extremity dysfunction and fine motor weakness, endurance and coordination deficits while physical therapists focus on lower extremity dysfunction and gait deficits.

PT and OT overlap in the area of functional transfers and ambulation (accessing the toilet and bath) as well as total body strengthening and endurance improvement.