October 24, 2022
Are you considering training as a physical therapist assistant (PTA) or occupational therapy assistant (OTA), but don’t know which one to choose? Physical therapy and occupational therapy are only two of the many fields in healthcare that let you work directly with patients. Both help patients rehabilitate and regain or maintain their independence, but while they share some similarities, goals and exercises and can vary between these two fields.
If you think physical therapy or occupational therapy might be the right career choice for you, knowing the differences is vital in helping you make the right choice. Keep reading to learn more about what it means to work as a PTA or an OTA.
Physical Therapy vs. Occupational Therapy
While physical therapy focuses on helping patients recover their mobility after accidents or injuries, occupational therapy activities put the emphasis on ensuring patients can complete day-to-day tasks.
For example, physical therapist assistants can help someone regain the ability to walk again after an accident. The focus of the activities is to improve the patient’s movement and lessen pain. Meanwhile, occupational therapy assistants are more likely to work with fine motor skills, helping ensure a patient can dress, eat, and participate in essential daily activities.
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Where OT and PT Overlap
While goals and approaches can differ, PTAs and OTAs also perform some similar tasks. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, work responsibilities for both roles include:
Occupational Therapy Assistants and Kids
While PTAs work mainly with those recovering from accidents or injury, OTAs often work with kids who have developmental or learning disabilities. OTAs lead children in play activities that promote coordination and socialization.2 These are designed to help them develop skills they’ll need in everyday life.
If you like working with children, training to be an occupational therapy assistant could be a rewarding and fulfilling career path.
Which One Is Right for You?
Both physical therapy and occupational therapy are noble paths to pursue. Which one is right for you depends on what you would personally find the most fulfilling. You can read more about what it takes to train as a physical therapist assistant or occupational therapy assistant online
ACC provides career guidance and assistance but cannot guarantee employment.
1 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides
2 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides
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