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.

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
Ext (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.