A common question people ask when they get injured is what is the difference between physiotherapy and occupational therapy (OT)? What about osteopathy and acupuncture? How do these professions differ from one another?

  • Occupational therapists:

When one thinks of OT they should think of the word occupations. Occupational therapists are called upon in a variety of practices to ensure that a patient is able to do what is meaningful to them. This includes activities of daily living (self-care), work-related tasks (productivity) and leisure activities. They evaluate an individual’s physical, environmental and social function and work together to increase their independence and prevent disability.

  • Physiotherapy (PT):

Physiotherapists are movement specialists. When an individual presents himself with an illness, injury or condition that makes movement difficult, a physiotherapist will help restore, maintain or maximize their strength, function and movement. Physiotherapists provide rehab post injury, prevention of future injuries, and promote and improve overall health, fitness and quality of life.

An example to illustrate the difference between OT and PT is as follows; An individual who suffered from a stroke and is sent to rehabilitation. A physiotherapist will help the individual regain mobility and function by increasing amplitude, strength, balance and mobility through exercises. An occupational therapist will focus on the individual’s occupations. They will help them re-learn how to get dressed, shower, eat, return to work and accomplish any other activities of daily living or leisure independently (gardening, sports etc).

  • Osteopathy

Based on the individual’s symptoms, the osteopath evaluates and treats overall mobility of the musculoskeletal, visceral and craniosacral systems. Osteopaths aim to improve an individual’s health through hands-on treatments. Treatments include, stretching, muscle energy techniques and manipulations.

  •  Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a form of Chinese medicine that is believed to balance the flow of energy in the body. It is used to relieve pain and discomfort by the insertion of very thin needles through the skin at strategic points.

If you have an injury or illness and what to make sure which treatment is right for you, ask your Dr for advice or a recommendation. A free screening appointment is also available at AMS to help guide you in the right direction or treatment.




, What is Occupational Therapy? (2016). Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists. Retrieved on November 3, 2019, from https://www.caot.ca/site/aboutot/whatisot?nav=sidebar.

Acupuncture (2019). Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER).  Retrieved on November 3, 2019. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/acupuncture/about/pac-20392763?p=1

About Physiotherapy. Physiotherapy Alberta College + Association  (2019) Retrieved on November 3, 2019 from https://www.physiotherapyalberta.ca/public_and_patients/about_physiotherapy.

What does an osteopath do? (2019). The International Academy of Osteopathy. Retrieved on November 3, 2019, from https://www.osteopathie.eu/en/osteopathy/what-does-osteopath-do.