The U.S. Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics has this to
say about Physical Therapists at [ http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos080.htm
"Physical therapists (PTs) provide services that help restore
function, improve mobility, relieve pain, and prevent or limit
permanent physical disabilities of patients suffering from injuries or
disease. They restore, maintain, and promote overall fitness and
health. Their patients include accident victims and individuals with
disabling conditions such as low back pain, arthritis, heart disease,
fractures, head injuries, and cerebral palsy.
Treatment often includes exercise for patients who have been
immobilized and lack flexibility, strength, or endurance. They
encourage patients to use their own muscles to further increase
flexibility and range of motion before finally advancing to other
exercises improving strength, balance, coordination, and endurance.
Their goal is to improve how an individual functions at work and home.
All States require physical therapists to pass a licensure exam before
they can practice, after graduating from an accredited physical
therapist educational program.
Physical therapist programs start with basic science courses such as
biology, chemistry, and physics, and then introduce specialized
courses such as biomechanics, neuroanatomy, human growth and
development, manifestations of disease, examination techniques, and
therapeutic procedures. Besides classroom and laboratory instruction,
students receive supervised clinical experience. Courses useful when
applying to physical therapist educational programs include anatomy,
biology, chemistry, social science, mathematics, and physics. Before
granting admission, many professional education programs require
experience as a volunteer in a physical therapy department of a
hospital or clinic."
Another Bureau of Labor Statistics page at [
http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos078.htm ] discusses the work of
"Occupational therapists (OTs) help people improve their ability to
perform tasks in their daily living and working environments. They
work with individuals who have conditions that are mentally,
physically, developmentally, or emotionally disabling. They also help
them to develop, recover, or maintain daily living and work skills.
Occupational therapists not only help clients improve basic motor
functions and reasoning abilities, but also compensate for permanent
loss of function. Their goal is to help clients have independent,
productive, and satisfying lives.
Occupational therapists assist clients in performing activities of all
types, ranging from using a computer, to caring for daily needs such
as dressing, cooking, and eating. Physical exercises may be used to
increase strength and dexterity, while paper and pencil exercises may
be chosen to improve visual acuity and the ability to discern
patterns. A client with short-term memory loss, for instance, might be
encouraged to make lists to aid recall. A person with coordination
problems might be assigned exercises to improve hand-eye coordination.
Occupational therapists also use computer programs to help clients
improve decision making, abstract reasoning, problem solving, and
perceptual skills, as well as memory, sequencing, and coordination-all
of which are important for independent living.
A bachelor's degree in occupational therapy is the minimum requirement
for entry into this field. All States, Puerto Rico, and the District
of Columbia regulate occupational therapy. To obtain a license,
applicants must graduate from an accredited educational program, and
pass a national certification examination. Those who pass the test are
awarded the title of registered occupational therapist.
Occupational therapy coursework includes physical, biological, and
behavioral sciences, and the application of occupational therapy
theory and skills. Completion of 6 months of supervised fieldwork also
In summary, Physical Therapy and occupational Therapy are similar jobs
with similar requirements. The basic difference is that a Physical
Therapist usually works with gross motor control (i.e. range of
motion, strength, endurance, etc.) while an Occupational Therapist
works to enable the patient to perform specific tasks (i.e. cooking,
dressing, typing, etc.). Educational requirements are set by
individual states in the USA, but seem to generally include a
college/university degree from an accredited institution, specific
science and medical courses, supervised fieldwork, and the passing of
a licensing exam.
The University of Puget Sound lists the academic coursework
requirements for a Master's degree in Occupational Therapy at [
http://www.ups.edu/bulletin/ot.htm#course_sequence ]. The diverse
coursework covers anatomy, treatment of mental disorders,
biomechanical approaches, clinical treatment, and health policy.
The School of Public Health and Health Professions at the University
of Buffalo has a curriculum online at [
http://phhp.buffalo.edu/rs/ot/bs/curriculum.htm ] for their B.S.
program in Occupational Therapy. The curriculum appears similar to
Puget Sound's though the course names may be slightly different.
More curriculums may be found through the second search I have listed
Google Search: "occupational therapist" + "physical therapist"
Google Search: course + degree + "occupational therapy" + "physical
I hope this helps your search. Please ask for clarification if needed!