BS Occupational Therapy vs BS Physical Therapy: What's the Difference? | Edukasyon.ph
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BS Occupational Therapy vs BS Physical Therapy: What’s the Difference?

Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy share many similarities in a lot of aspects and many tend to confuse one for the other. After all, both courses involve managing the welfare and rehabilitation of their clients through hands-on means. 

While both pre-med fields find ways to ensure that their patients are able to perform everyday tasks through constant rehabilitative care, each field tackles therapy differently and takes their own approach in assisting patients in recovering so they can function and go about their daily routines.

How are BS Physical Therapy and BS Occupational Therapy different?

If there is one thing that can distinguish physical therapy and occupational therapy, it’s what they ultimately focus on that sets them apart from each other.

BS Occupational Therapy

BS Occupational Therapy is a healthcare course that focuses on evaluating and improving a person’s daily functions, especially after an injury, sickness, or a disability (be it developmental or physical) that rendered them incapable of performing daily functions such as moving, walking or speaking.

Occupational therapists are usually not the ones that directly treat the affected body parts of their patients the same way that physical therapists do it. Instead, occupational therapists are the ones that guide patients and their movements by helping them walk, exercise, or move. 

The program also tends to educate and impart to students the necessary skills and knowledge needed for them to help patients recuperate and function independently in areas such as work, leisure, play, education, and daily living. Helping a patient regain its self-esteem and health also falls under these.

Disabilities that also affect a patient’s behavior and emotional capacity due to cognitive problems also fall under the sphere of patients that occupational therapists usually care for. For example, patients with special needs such as autism are usually tasked by occupational therapists to help them improve their quality of life by helping them regain their ability to communicate and interact with others. When it comes to stroke patients who are unable to use their limbs, occupational therapists also take charge of helping them regain mobility so they can return to walking, writing and talking.


The BS OT curriculum includes the following subjects and are divided into three categories– Core Subjects, Professional Courses, and General Education Courses. Here’s a more comprehensive list:

  • Core Subjects:
    • Basic Sciences: Anatomy and Physiology, Gross and Organ System Anatomy, Kinesiology, Neuroanatomy, Physiology
    • Ethics in Occupational Therapy
    • Healthcare
    • Medical Foundation: General Medical Conditions, General Surgical Conditions, Neurology, Pathology
    • Occupational Therapy (CBR)
    • Research: Research 1 (Introduction to Research and Research Proposal), Research 2 (Research Presentation and Implementation)
  • Professional Courses:
    • Occupational Therapy Foundations: Evaluation for Physical Dysfunction, Evaluation for Psychosocial Dysfunction, Human Behavior in Occupational Therapy, Introduction to Clinics, Introduction to Occupational Therapy and Rehabilitation, Management of Physical Dysfunction, Management of Psychosocial Dysfunction, Orthopedics and Prosthetics, Psychiatric Foundations in Occupational Therapy, Theoretical Foundations in Occupational Therapy, Therapeutic Skills in Human Development
    • Clinical Training

BS OT majors usually have various classroom learning activities and group discussions on top of laboratory and field work during their first three years. These include tackling the general education courses.

The final two years in the program are also dedicated to the professional courses, which are integral to the field.

Aside from a research project, BS OT majors also take their Clinical Internship Program during their fifth and final year.

Upon graduation, students under this program are expected to take the Professional Regulation Commission’s Occupational Therapist Registration Exam, where graduates are only deemed registered Occupational Therapists upon passing the board exam.

BS Physical Therapy

BS Physical Therapy, meanwhile, is a healthcare program that teaches students how to treat a vital body part of the patient that’s specifically affected and focuses on evaluating dysfunctions that affect one’s movement. Although occupational therapists also diagnose injuries, physical therapist majors focus more on tackling and treating the physical source of the problem, such as affected muscle tissues or body parts.

From here, physical therapists employ the use of various therapeutic exercises such as acupuncture, ultrasound, and electrotherapy and apply them onto the affected parts of the patient’s body in the hopes of stimulating them.


The BS PT curriculum includes the following subjects and are also divided into three categories, similar to BS OT. Although both therapy courses roughly carry the same subjects, note that there are more science courses in this course:

  • Core Subjects:
    • Basic Sciences: Anatomy and Physiology, Gross and Organ System Anatomy, Kinesiology, Neuroanatomy, Physiology
    • Ethics in Physical Therapy
    • Healthcare
    • Medical Foundation: General Medical Conditions, General Surgical Conditions, Neurology, Pathology, Psychiatric Foundations for PT
    • Organization and Administration
    • Research 1
  • Professional Courses:
    • Orthotics and Prosthetics, Physical Therapy Foundations 1 to 4, Therapeutic Exercises 1 to 3
    • Clinical Application: Clinical Education 1 to 2, Clinical Education (CBR), Seminar 1 to 2
    • Research 2

BS PT majors usually dedicate their first two years tackling general education subjects.

Come their third and fourth year, students will then deal with professional courses that are vital to Physical Therapy as a whole through class discussions and demonstrations.

It is only during your fifth and final year that students will focus on their Clinical Internship Program, where students get to experience what it’s like under supervision in hospitals and other centers. Like Occupational Therapy majors, Physical Therapy majors also need to accomplish a clinical paper prior to graduation, which must also be presented in front of a panel of faculty members.

After graduation, students under this program are also expected to take the Physical Therapist Registration Exam, which is also supervised by the PRC. Passing the board exams will be the only time Physical Therapist graduates can practice as registered Physical Therapists.

Overlapping Courses

Although BS Occupational Therapy and BS Physical Therapy have their own respective specializations, there are still certain aspects where both courses overlap:

  • Both teach others how the healing process works.
  • Both courses teach others how to prevent injuries from happening and how they can be avoided.
  • Both involve helping people improve their ability to continue their daily routines through constant training and education.
  • Both assist people with improving their ability to perform daily activities through training and education.
  • Both play very important roles and specialize in their areas of expertise.

In some cases, patients may start with a physical therapist and progress to an occupational therapist. For example, someone recovering from a severe stroke might work with a physical therapist to build back muscle strength. Later on, that person would see an occupational therapist to practice basic skills that the stroke may have impaired, such as bathing, dressing, eating, and walking. 

Ultimately, both healthcare programs are highly fulfilling in that you get to watch your progress unfurl through your patients over time, and if you’re the type of person who genuinely loves helping others become better, then expect to have a fun ride!

Are you planning to pursue BS Physical Therapy? Or are you considering on taking BS Occupational Therapy instead? Check out more of these schools that offer both courses on Edukasyon.ph and apply now!