Physical therapy and occupational therapy are similar in many ways. Both help patients recover function and mobility after an injury, surgery, illness, or a medical condition. So what’s the difference and how should you choose?

Rehab Maxx offers both home occupational therapy and in-home physical therapy. We come to your home and bring everything we need to help you recover faster. We also work with many medical facilities, including nursing homes and assisted living homes, to bring care to these facilities as well, helping all of your residents with their medical needs. We currently serve Cook, Lake, Kane, and Dupage Counties. Below, we’ll go over the difference between physical therapists and occupational therapists, so you can decide which one is best for you. Contact us today to get started!


Physical therapy (also known as physiotherapy) focuses on helping you move correctly. They focus on evaluating and diagnosing movement dysfunctions, as well as treating the actual injury itself. Physical therapy is more focused than occupational therapy, honing in on your problem spot(s) rather than treating the whole person. Physical therapists study body mechanics and use techniques to reduce pain, restore the function of whatever is not functioning optimally, and preventing further injury and disability. The goal is also to heal you so you won’t suffer from a repetitive injury in the future. For example, a person suffering from a stroke has probably lost the use of one side of their body. A physical therapist would then focus on strengthening the patient’s leg muscles and arm muscles for walking, grasping, and standing.

Physical Therapists Often Treat:

  • Shoulder tendonitis
  • Rotator cuff tears
  • Elbow fracture
  • Stroke
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Colles’ fracture
  • Shoulder bursitis
  • Humeral fracture


Occupational therapy focuses on helping people perform daily tasks and can be specific to helping you perform tasks essential to your occupation and the movements required for you to do your job well. Hence, occupational therapy is a holistic approach to getting you better. With occupational therapy, the goal is getting the patient able to function independently in daily living. Occupational therapists, therefore, work primarily with those who are suffering from developmental or cognitive disabilities who need extensive care to get them to independence. 

An occupational therapist thus not only includes the physical exercises to gain mobility, but also includes wellness, other therapies, and modifications to the home environment. For example, a person recovering from a stroke will have an individualized treatment plan provided for them by their occupational therapist, such as Rehab Maxx in Chicago,  that would focus on more daily activities, such as eating, bathing, and dressing.

Occupational Therapists Often Treat:

  • Tendon tears in the fingers and hand
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Colles’ fracture
  • Wrist arthritis
  • Tennis elbow
  • Shoulder pain
  • Rotator cuff injuries
  • Stroke impairments
  • Thumb arthritis


As you can see, the main difference between physical therapy and occupational therapy is how they improve their patients’ lives, as each has a different goal. In general, occupational therapy treats conditions that affect the upper part of your body, such as your arms, wrist, finger, or shoulder. Lower extremity issues tend to be the focus of physical therapists, but not exclusively. However, both occupational therapists and physical therapists work together to get you moving again.


Both physical therapy and occupational therapy are amazing at helping patients who are suffering from on-going disabilities, conditions, or disorders, or those recovering from an accident or surgery, return to their normal life afterwards. Both have extensive training in anatomy and musculoskeletal system, as well as injuries and rehabilitative methods. They just go about treatment a bit differently. Which one you choose is an individual choice based on your individual preferences. 


Rehab Maxx offers in-home physical therapy and home occupational therapy to make it convenient for our patients. We understand that patients who have a physical ailment have a hard time getting around. We believe you can heal better when you can concentrate on resting and following the treatment plan we put into place for you. Here in Chicago, the winters can be tough, and the last thing we want is for you to fall, slip, or otherwise hurt yourself trying to make it to your occupational therapy or physical therapy appointment. We believe passionately in helping you to recover, which we believe we can do by making your recovery as stress-free and as easy as possible.

Rehab Maxx will partner with your healthcare facility in order to better facilitate occupational and physical therapy care. By having us on-site for a specified time(s) each week, your patients can be assured that they will get the care they need to keep moving forward with their recovery. This makes coordination easy, so you’re not trying to shuffle a bunch of different practitioners around your facility, which can be time-consuming and cumbersome. We specialize in chronic pain, dementia, arthritis, neurological conditions, sports-related injuries, and much more. Our staff has decades of experience in helping our patients return to their functional lives.

Rehab Maxx notes that the small steps matter, and seeing patients improve little by little with every session, until they are finally able to accomplish their goals is why we do what we do. We also offer speech therapy in the Chicago area, which is a great complement to in-home physical therapy. Reach out to us today to get started!