Occupational Therapy fact vs fiction Occupational Therapy fact vs fiction Occupational Therapy fact vs fiction

Occupational Therapy: Fact vs. Fiction

by Emily Peterson3 Comments

“What exactly is Occupational Therapy?”

As an Occupational Therapist, I am often asked this question by friends, family and patients. Since April is Occupational Therapy (OT) Month, I wanted to take some time to shed some light on this rewarding profession by separating the OT facts from the OT fiction.

FICTION: Occupational Therapists only help people find jobs.

To many people, the term “occupation” is synonymous with “job.” Because of this, they assume that jobs are the focus of OT. To OTs, however, an “occupation” is anything that occupies your time throughout the day. This includes performing your job duties, taking care of a child or pet, participating in a sport or hobby, or even brushing your teeth! Occupational Therapists help people regain the necessary physical, cognitive and social skills to participate in all the “occupations” that are meaningful to them2.

FACT: Occupational Therapy is a diverse profession with a long history. OT Celebrated its 100th birthday in 2017.1

OTs work with people of all ages in various settings such as hospitals, inpatient rehab, outpatient centers and even in homes. OTs treat many different populations and specialties, including pediatrics, hand therapy, stroke rehab, spinal cord injury and workplace injury prevention and rehabilitation. With OT, there is never a shortage of variety! This year, OT is celebrating its 100th birthday. In the last century, the OT industry has grown to include more than 213,000 practitioners focused on helping clients regain independence and participate in their “occupations.”1

FICTION:  Occupational Therapy is the same as Physical Therapy (PT).

OT and PT are both rehabilitation professions that focus on helping clients be as independent as possible. However, they focus on different body parts/functions and use different types of interventions. As previously mentioned, OTs strive to incorporate occupation-based interventions centered around everyday activities that patients want and need to do. PTs and OTs often work together as part of a team, along with other rehabilitation professionals, to achieve the best overall outcomes for their patients.

FACT: At Athletico, Occupational Therapists are the experts in treating conditions affecting the upper extremity, from fingertip to shoulder.

Most of Athletico OTs specialize in the treatment of any injury or condition affecting the bones, ligaments, tendons, nerves or muscles of the upper extremity, through the sub-specialty of hand therapy. Athletico’s hand therapists treat a wide variety of diagnoses including fractures, tendonitis, traumatic injuries, and nerve conditions like carpal tunnel and arthritis. Treatments can include modalities like heat and ultrasound, wound care, splinting, regaining motion/strength/coordination, desensitization and reducing pain – all to get clients back to the things they want and need to do!

Celebrating 100 Years of Occupational Therapy

Hopefully these facts helped you better understand the profession so that you have an idea of what OT can do for you. Click the button below to schedule an appointment with an Athletico Occupational Therapist near you.

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The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.


  1. American Occupational Therapy Association. Occupational Therapy Profession Celebrates 100 Years. Aota.org. AOTA, n.d. Web.
  1. “Occupational Therapy Practice Framework: Domain and Process (3rd Edition).”American Journal of Occupational Therapy68 (2014): S1-S48. Web.
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  1. Colin Crawford

    Great Blog! Appreciate the explanation of what OT is and isn’t, how OTs are different from but work collaboratively with PTs and other professionals, and how many OTs work with patients to improve their function through the sub-specialty of hand therapy.

  2. Natalie

    Great post! Thank you very much for delivering such information … Really helpful info!

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