Difference Between Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy
Considering a career as an occupational therapy assistant or physiotherapy assistant? Both roles involve helping people with their health and mobility, but what are the key differences between occupational therapy and physiotherapy?
We explore the similarities and contrasts between occupational therapy vs. physiotherapy to clear up any confusion and help you choose the right career for your interests.
Occupational Therapy vs. Physiotherapy: Responsibilities
These roles are often confused due to their many overlaps in objectives and responsibilities. But while each field focuses on rehabilitative work, there are several differences between occupational therapy and physiotherapy that may draw you to one or the other.
What is occupational therapy?
Occupational therapy is a holistic approach used to treat the whole person. Occupational therapists help people to fully engage in daily activities, whether they’re recovering from an injury or have developmental or cognitive impairments impacting their motor skills, emotions or behaviour.
What does an occupational therapy assistant do?
Occupational therapy assistants provide rehabilitative services that improve the quality of life for people with disabilities. They work under the supervision of occupational therapists to help people return to their jobs, increase their ability to perform daily living activities and overcome the challenges of lost motor or learning skills.
Responsibilities might include:
- Helping patients with therapeutic activities (e.g. stretches and other exercises)
- Leading children who have developmental disabilities in play activities that promote coordination and socialisation
- Encouraging patients to complete daily activities and tasks (e.g. bathing, dressing, eating and walking)
- Teaching patients how to use equipment (e.g. showing a patient with Parkinson’s disease how to use devices that make eating easier).
What is physiotherapy?
Physiotherapy focuses on treating a patient’s specific impairment by increasing mobility, aligning bones and joints, or lessening pain. The key objective is to get patients back to performing their normal movements through exercises, massage and other techniques.
What does a physiotherapy assistant do?
Physiotherapy assistants work under the supervision of physiotherapists to encourage patients to follow specific exercise and treatment programs related to injury, illness or disability-related physical issues.
Responsibilities might include:
- Identifying and assessing physical problems of patients
- Designing treatment programs
- Setting up equipment
- Working on exercises with patients
- Showing patients how to use mobility aids, canes and artificial limbs
- Applying therapeutic techniques (e.g. heat, cold or massage therapies)
- Helping patients prepare for treatment (including helping with dressing and undressing)
- Instructing patients and their families in procedures to be continued at home.
Occupational Therapy vs. Physiotherapy: Salary
According to PayScale, Occupational therapy assistants and physiotherapy assistants in Australia earn a similar average annual salary.
The salary of an occupational therapy assistant in Australia ranges between $45,000 to $60,000 per year or between $20 and $27 per hour.
The salary of a physiotherapy assistant in Australia ranges between $45,000 to $61,000 per year or between $20 and $26 per hour.
As with most occupations, your salary may depend on factors such as qualifications, experience and location.
Occupational Therapy vs. Physiotherapy: Qualifications
A HLT33015 Certificate III in Allied Health Assistance will qualify you to work as an occupational therapy assistant or physiotherapy assistant in Australia.
This nationally recognised HLT33015 Certificate III in Allied Health Assistance course is delivered through a combination of online theory and practical work placement in a healthcare environment. It equips you to competently assist with allied health programming, interpret basic medical terminology and comply with infection prevention and control policies.
Upon successful completion of the HLT33015 Certificate III in Allied Health Assistance, you’ll have the skills and knowledge you need to provide patient care in a range of health industry settings including hospitals, medical practices, schools and community health centres.
A HLT33015 Certificate III in Allied Health Assistance course with Foundation Education opens doors to assistant roles in occupational therapy and physiotherapy. So if you’re still unsure which role is best for you, obtaining this certificate will ensure you’re qualified either way.
Learn more about a HLT33015 Certificate III in Allied Health Assistance with Foundation Education and call our friendly and helpful team on 1300 616 197.