Should I take Physiotherapy or Occupational Therapy? What is the difference?

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During my time as an education counsellor, I came across numerous students looking to study Physiotherapy, as it would be an occupation in demand to meet the needs of the ageing population in Singapore. Strangely though, there are students who believe that if they do not meet the entry requirements of the Physiotherapy course, they should simply opt for the Occupational Therapy course. 

The two programs are not synonymous.

In this article, we shall discuss the differences of the two career options.

As an Occupational Therapist (OT), the focus is on optimising a patient’s independence and improving their functional ability to accomplish daily tasks following an injury or disability. With this core aim, an OT is trained to assess and adjust the physical environment of a patient’s home or work office to help one adapt to his or her circumstance and ultimately improve his or her quality of life. An OT will also train the a patient to use assistive equipment to help him or her cope with the everyday activities. 

As an Physiotherapist (PT), the focus is on treating a person’s injury, specifically the root of the concern, which are the injured tissues and structures. He or she evaluates and diagnose movement dysfunctions and then treats these through physical methods such as massage and exercise to strengthen, increase endurance and joint mobility. 

It is also important to note that there are many areas in which both professions greatly overlap.

Both professions are often involve in injury-related recovery and a large component of their job is to educate how to prevent and avoid injuries. An OT and PT are heavily educated and trained in anatomy and the musculoskeletal system and have immense knowledge about musculoskeletal injuries and rehabilitation. 

Now that you know a little more about the two different professions, I hope you can make an informed decision about which program to pursue! Good luck!


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