Occupational therapy (OT) refers to a type of rehabilitation recommended by doctors after experiencing an injury, surgery, or other health change. OT is often aimed at learning skills that will help them return to their daily lives at home and at work.

The goal of OT is to support independent living and functioning as much as possible. This means:

  • Help older people adapt to mobility problems
  • Help someone return to work after an injury
  • Help your child reach developmental milestones

Continue reading to learn everything about Occupational therapy, what to expect from OT, how it differs from physical therapy (PT), costs, benefits and more.

1. What is occupational therapy?

Occupational therapy helps people regain life, work, and home skills that have become difficult after injury, illness, or a change in health.

For example, while physical therapy can help you regain strength and mobility after a health event such as stroke or surgery, OT can help you regain skills like writing and cooking.

It also helps you adapt. An occupational therapist can conduct an assessment of your home, work, or school. This helps recommend adaptive gear and other tools to help you cope with life.

Occupational therapists also play an important role in supporting caregivers. If you are caring for a loved one at home, an occupational therapist can teach you how to use equipment, administer medications, and provide support.

The general goals of OT are to:

  • Help you safely and effectively complete a variety of daily tasks
  • Help restore or maintain independence
  • Ensure caregivers understand how best to support their loved ones

2. Who needs occupational therapy?

Doctor may recommend OT for a variety of medical conditions that affect your ability to perform daily tasks. OT is helpful when movement is compromised by long-term injury, illness, or cognitive changes, or when a prosthesis is replaced due to amputation.

People who may benefit from OT include those affected by:

  • Dementia Or Alzheimer's Disease
  • Stroke
  • Neuromuscular Diseases Such As Multiple Sclerosis And Parkinson's Disease
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Paralysis
  • Mental Health Concerns
  • Chronic Muscle, Joint, or Skeletal Problems
  • Chronic Pain
  • Developmental Disorders Such as Autism

3. What to expect during occupational therapy?

OT varies slightly from person to person. Your therapist will consider your medical history, environment and needs to create a plan that works for you. This includes advice and training for nursing staff and other relatives.


OT helps adults learn or relearn a variety of skills. Occupational therapists can help you:

  • Life Skills Such as Dressing, Meal Preparation, Eating, And Self-Care
  • Gross And Fine Motor Skills
  • Everyday Life
  • Adapting To Home and Work
  • Movement
  • Concentration And Memory
  • Medical Devices Such as Walking Aids and Prosthetic Legs
  • Job Skills
  • Drive
  • Social Skills


For children and young people, a career is an activity that helps them learn, have fun, develop life skills and grow.

During OT, the therapist looks for conventional developmental milestones and what is preventing the child from achieving those milestones.

They begin with a detailed assessment and work with parents, caregivers and other professionals to develop a plan to modify and adjust the child's activities and environment. At the same time, we work with children to develop adaptive and corrective skills for successful play, learning, relationships and life skills.

For children, OT addresses a wide range of needs, including:

  • Developmental Disorders
  • Physical Injury or Illness
  • Emotional Behavioral State

4. The key difference between Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy

Physical therapy, also called PT, focuses on improving movement, mobility, and function. A physical therapist can accomplish this through a variety of exercises, stretches, and other physical activities.

For example, people who have had knee replacement surgery may see a physical therapist as part of their recovery.

Occupational therapy, also known as OT, focuses on making everyday tasks easier to perform. The focus of this form of treatment is to improve fine and gross motor skills so that you can perform specific daily activities. Occupational therapists also focus on making the home and school environment more optimal for everyday life.

For example, occupational therapists can help people recovering from a stroke return to their daily tasks, such as dressing and eating with utensils. You may also make changes in your home, such as installing handrails in your shower.