Physical therapy abbreviations are frequently used by PTs and PTAs to denote various movements, devices, viewpoints, anatomical landmarks, surgical procedures, and even professional certifications. There are many different abbreviations floating around out there, and we felt it made sense to create a comprehensive guide to PT shorthand.
This article is divided into two sections: clinical terminology and professional terminology. We’ll start with the abbreviations that are generally used in clinical practice and documentation. Then, we’ll move on to professional designations.

The PT Patient’s Guide to Understanding Insurance - Regular BannerThe PT Patient’s Guide to Understanding Insurance - Small Banner

Clinical Physical Therapy Abbreviations

Here are some of the abbreviations and shorthand terms commonly seen in physical therapy documentation. Keep in mind that abbreviations tend to be facility-specific, and when creating your notes, you should always consider that outside parties might eventually read them. To ensure that all of those parties—including other medical professionals, patients, and clinical reviewers—can easily understand what you’re trying to say, you may want to use a text expander. This tool—which is built into WebPT—automatically changes designated abbreviations into their full-text equivalents.

AAROM - active assistive range of motion
ABD - abduction
AC - acromioclavicular
ACDF - anterior cervical discectomy and fusion
ACJ - acromioclavicular joint
ACL - anterior cruciate ligament
AD - assistive device
ADD - adduction
ADL - activity/activities of daily living
AFO - ankle foot orthosis
AICD - automated implantable cardiac defibrillator
AKA - above-knee amputation
Amb - ambulation
A/P - anterior/posterior
AROM - active range of motion
B - bilateral
BID - twice a day
BKA - below-knee amputation
c (with a line over it) - with
CABG - coronary artery bypass graft (open heart surgery)
CGA - contact guard assist
CKC - closed kinetic chain
C/O - complains of
CP - cold pack, cerebral palsy
CPM - continuous passive motion
CTx - cervical traction
DDD - degenerative disc disease
DF - dorsiflexion
DJD - degenerative joint disease
EEG - electroencephalogram
EOB - edge of bed
ER - external rotation
Estim or ES - electrical stimulation
EV - eversion
Ex - exercise
Ex Lap – exploratory laparotomy or laparoscopy
Eex (or /) - extension
FIM - functional independence level (also called FIM score)
Flex (or ✓) - flexion
FWB - full weight-bearing
Fx - fracture
FWW - front-wheeled walker
GHJ - glenohumeral joint
HEP - home exercise program
HKAFO - hip-knee-ankle foot orthosis
HNP - herniated nucleus pulposus (herniated disc)
H/o - history of
HOB - head of bed
Horiz - horizontal
HP - hot pack
HVGS - high-voltage galvanic stimulation
Hx - history
I (or Ind) - independent
I&D - incision and drainage (debridement)
ICD-10 - 10th revision: International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems
Inv - inversion
Ionto - iontophoresis
IR - internal rotation
ITB - iliotibial band
KAFO - knee ankle foot orthosis
L - left
LAQ - long-arc quad
LBQC - large-base quad cane
LCL - lateral collateral ligament
LE - lower extremity
LOA - level of assist
LOS - length of stay
LP - leg press
LSO - lumbosacral orthosis
LTG - long-term goals
Max A - maximum assist
MCL - medial collateral ligament
MD - medical doctor
MFR - myofascial release
MHP - moist hot pack
Min A - minimum assist
Mm - muscle
MMT - manual muscle test
Mob - mobilization
Mod I - modified independent
NBQC - narrow base quad cane
NDT - neuro-developmental technique
NMES - neuromuscular electrical stimulation
NWB - non-weight bearing
OKC - open kinetic chain
OOB - out of bed
PCL - posterior cruciate ligament
PF - plantarflexion
Pfin - paraffin bath
PFS - patellofemoral syndrome
Phono - phonophoresis
PMX (or PMHx) - past medical history
PNF - proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation
Pro - pronation
PROM - passive range of motion
Pt - patient
PUW - pick-up walker
PWB - partial weight bearing
PD - peritoneal dialysis
PEG - percutaneous endoscopic gastrotomy
PICC - peripherally inserted central catheter
PLIF - posterior lumbar interbody fusion
Q - every
QC - quad cane
QD - every day
QID - four times a day
R - right
RC - rotator cuff
RD - radial deviation
RICE - rest, ice, compression, elevation
RN - registered nurse
ROM - range of motion
Rot - rotation
RT - respiratory therapist/therapy
RW - rolling walker
Rx - treatment
S (with a line over a lower cased S) - without
SAQ - short arc quad
SB - side bending (or Swiss ball)
SBA - stand-by assist
SBQC - small base quad cane
SC - straight cane
SLR - straight leg raise
SPC - single-point cane
STM - soft tissue mobilization
STS - sit-to-stand
Sup - supination
SW - standard walker
TB - TheraBand, tuberculosis
TDWB - touch-down weight bearing
TENS - transcutaneous electrical neuromuscular stimulation
THA - total hip arthroplasty
Ther Ex - therapeutic exercise
THR - total hip replacement
TID - three times a day
TKA - total knee arthroplasty
TKR - total knee replacement
TLSO - thoracic lumbar sacral orthosis
TLIF - transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion
TM - treadmill
TMJ - temporomandibular joint
Total A - total assist
Trxn - traction
TTWB - toe-touch weight bearing
UBE - upper body ergometer
UD - ulnar deviation
UE - upper extremity
US - ultrasound
WBAT - weight bearing as tolerated
WBQC - wide-base quad cane
WC (or w/c) - wheelchair
WFL - within functional limits
WNL - within normal limits
WW - wheeled walker
4WW - four-wheeled walker
# - pounds

Professional Physical Therapy Abbreviations and Certifications

PT professionals often jokingly refer to the jumble of letters following our names as “the alphabet soup of physical therapy.” Indeed, if you consider the many designations and certifications out there, it can start to look excessive! We’ve covered some of the most common ones in this article—including the wide array of both clinical and non-clinical certifications and designations below—but this is by no means an exhaustive list.

AET - Advanced Exercise Therapist
ART - Active Release Techniques
ATC - Athletic Trainer, Certified
CAFS - Certification in Applied Functional Science®
CAPP-OB - Certificate of Achievement in Pregnancy and Postpartum Physical Therapy
CAPP-Pelvic - Certificate of Achievement in Pelvic Physical Therapy
CCI - Certified Clinical Instructor
CCM - Certified Case Manager
CCP - Clinical Certification Program
CCS - Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Certified Specialist *
CCVT- Certified Clinical Vestibular Therapist
CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator
CEAS -Certified Ergonomic Assessment Specialist
CEES - Certified Ergonomic Evaluator Specialist
CFCE - Certified Functional Capacity Evaluator
CFMT - Certified Functional Manual Therapist
CHC - Certified in Healthcare Compliance
CHT - Certified Hand Therapist
CKTP -Certified Kinesio Taping Practitioner
CLT - Certified Lymphedema Therapist
COMT - Certified Orthopedic Manual Therapist
CPHQ - Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality
CPHRM - Certified Professional in Healthcare Risk Management
CPT - Certified Personal Trainer
CPT - Certified Pilates Teacher
CREX - Certification in Rehabilitative Exercise
CSCS - Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist
CST - Craniosacral Therapist/Therapy
CST-D - Craniosacral Therapy Diplomate
CVT - Clinical Vestibular Therapist
CWCE - Certified Work Capacity Evaluator
CWS® - Certified Wound Specialist
CYI - Certified Yoga Instructor
CYT - Certified Yoga Therapist
DMT - Doctor of Manual Therapy
DWC® - Diabetic Wound Certified
ECS - Clinical Electrophysiologic Certified Specialist *
EdD - Doctor of Education
FAAOMPT - Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists
FAFS - Fellow of Applied Functional Science®
FCE - Functional Capacity Evaluator
FOC - Functional Orthopedic Certification
GCFP - Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner
GCS - Geriatric Certified Specialist *
HHP - Holistic Health Practitioner
JSCC - Jones Strain Counterstrain Certified
LLE® - Lymphedema Lower Extremity Certified
LMP - Licensed Massage Practitioner
LMT - Licensed Massage Therapist
MBA - Master of Business Administration
MDT - Diploma in Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy®
MHA - Master of Healthcare Administration
MTC - Manual Therapy Certified
NCS - Neurologic Certified Specialist *
NDT - Neuro-developmental Treatment Certified
OCS - Orthopedic Certified Specialist *
PAS - Postural Alignment Specialist
PCS - Pediatric Certified Specialist *
PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
RHIA - Registered Health Information Administrator
SCS - Sports Certified Specialist *
WCC® - Wound Care Certified
WCS - Women’s Certified Specialist *
* Designates an official certification within the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties

Additional Rehab Therapy Abbreviations and Designations

BSPT - bachelor of science in physical therapy
CDE - certified diabetes educator
COTA - certified occupational therapy assistant
DPT - doctor of physical therapy
LPT - licensed physical therapist
MD - medical doctor
MPT - master of physical therapy
OT - occupational therapist/therapy
OTA - occupational therapy assistant
OTD - occupational therapy doctorate
OTR/L - occupational therapist, registered/licensed
PT - physical therapist/therapy
DPT - doctor of physical therapy
PTA - physical therapist assistant
RN - registered nurse
RPT - registered physical therapist
RT - respiratory therapist/therapy
SLP - speech-language pathologist/pathology
SLPA - speech-language pathology assistant

Again, this is not an exhaustive list, and we know the educational opportunities available to PT professionals are always evolving. So, we’ll update this article periodically as we learn of more exciting certifications and specializations!

Meredith Castin, PT, DPT, is the founder of The Non-Clinical PT, a career development resource designed to help physical, occupational, and speech therapy professionals leverage their degrees in non-clinical ways.

  • Combatting Health Insurance Illiteracy: How to Help Patients Understand Their Plans Image

    articleApr 24, 2017 | 5 min. read

    Combatting Health Insurance Illiteracy: How to Help Patients Understand Their Plans

    Last week, WebPT’s Brooke Andrus wrote a post explaining why patient confusion about insurance coverage can translate into problems for your clinic—everything from angry and frustrated patients to unpaid balances. According to PJ Cloud-Moulds—author of this Physicians Practice post —“there is a huge gap between reality and what the patient thinks happens with their insurance plan.” That’s why—whether it should fall on providers’ shoulders or not—many PTs, OTs, and SLPs are stepping up their educational game to …

  • Therapy Heroes, Assemble! How to Fight the Top 3 Threats Facing PTs, OTs, and SLPs Image

    articleOct 25, 2017 | 7 min. read

    Therapy Heroes, Assemble! How to Fight the Top 3 Threats Facing PTs, OTs, and SLPs

    Earlier this year, WebPT conducted a survey to gain a better understanding of the state of the rehab therapy industry—and we were thrilled to receive more than 5,200 complete responses from rehab therapy professionals across the country. With this type of large-scale data collection and analysis, we’ve been able to produce a comprehensive snapshot of the rehab therapy industry’s demographics, trends, frustrations, and motivations, all of which shape the industry’s future outlook and potential for success in …

  • Verification Vexation: What to Do When You Can't Get a Hold of a Payer Image

    articleJun 16, 2017 | 5 min. read

    Verification Vexation: What to Do When You Can't Get a Hold of a Payer

    Unless you’re a character in a teen movie from the ’90s , you probably don’t love hanging out on the phone all day. But even the average teenager would undoubtedly agree there’s a better way to spend your time than sitting on the phone with an insurance payer. I know—getting in touch with insurance payers can be a huge pain. Between scheduling, data entry, and collecting patient forms and payments, there’s not a whole lot of time …

  • What's the Right Payer Mix for Your Practice? Image

    articleJul 17, 2018 | 6 min. read

    What's the Right Payer Mix for Your Practice?

    Insurance payments for healthcare services have been declining for a while now , which means providers in all disciplines are looking for ways to optimize their payer mix in order to maximize their revenue. If you haven’t yet calculated the cost of providing your services—and compared that number to the payments you’re receiving to ensure you’re actually making enough money to not only cover those costs, but also turn a profit—then you should. But the question remains: …

  • How to Manage Change in Your PT, OT, or SLP Practice Image

    articleSep 19, 2016 | 5 min. read

    How to Manage Change in Your PT, OT, or SLP Practice

    As the old saying goes, the only constant in life is change. Yes, it’s a bit cliché, but it’s true nonetheless. And for those working in the healthcare space—including private practice PTs, OTs, and SLPs—change is an especially prevalent aspect of day-to-day operations. After all, the whole point of all this healthcare reform hullaballoo is to change the manner in which providers deliver—and receive payment for—their services. So, whether they like it or not, practice leaders must …

  • The Surprising Metric That Will Help You Set the Right Patient Load Image

    articleFeb 4, 2019 | 5 min. read

    The Surprising Metric That Will Help You Set the Right Patient Load

    Burnout impacts professionals in all industries, but it’s becoming particularly rampant in health care, with providers and administrators constantly struggling to juggle insurance and documentation requirements with business operations and patient needs. As a team lead, manager, or clinic owner, you undoubtedly want to protect your staff from burnout—while also optimizing their performance to maximize revenue . After all, your therapists won’t have a practice to work in if you don’t earn enough money to keep the …

  • 9 Questions to Ask a Potential Billing Software Vendor Image

    articleMay 30, 2017 | 7 min. read

    9 Questions to Ask a Potential Billing Software Vendor

    The consumer landscape has changed drastically over the last two decades, and the healthcare space is no exception. Technology has driven much of that change. The rapid pace of innovation has created a technological smorgasbord, meaning consumers can sift through dozens of products until they find the perfect match. This proliferation of options has yielded a fresh set of challenges—including the overwhelming nature of so much choice. Salespeople might be counting on you to make a quick—and …

  • Are You Paying Your Rehab Therapy Clinic Staff Enough? Image

    articleAug 30, 2018 | 4 min. read

    Are You Paying Your Rehab Therapy Clinic Staff Enough?

    Every good boss wants to ensure that he or she is paying his or her employees enough—in most cases, more than enough—to cover the cost of living and prevent financial worry from getting in the way of job satisfaction. But with many rehab therapy students graduating with massive debt —and fee schedules on the decline—it can be difficult for a rehab therapy practice to properly pay staff and keep enough money in the practice to remain in …

  • 5 Ways to Coach Your Patients to Achieve their Therapy Goals Image

    articleJan 15, 2019 | 7 min. read

    5 Ways to Coach Your Patients to Achieve their Therapy Goals

    As a healthcare provider, you surely want your patients to succeed. But, there’s only so much you can do before it really is up to the patient to show up, follow through, and commit to the lifestyle changes necessary between sessions to reach his or her goals. That said, there are ways to maximize your efforts—to provide your patients with a solid foundation from which to soar. With that in mind, here are five strategies for motivating …

Achieve greatness in practice with the ultimate EMR for PTs, OTs, and SLPs.