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The Most Common Physical Therapy Abbreviations

Wondering what a certain physical therapy abbreviation means—or when to use it? Check out this list for the most relevant PT abbreviations.

Meredith Castin
5 min read
February 1, 2023
image representing the most common physical therapy abbreviations
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Physical therapy abbreviations are frequently used by PTs and PTAs to denote various movements, anatomical landmarks, medical 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. In case you are looking for a slew of abbreviations more specific to speech-language pathology, check out this post, and for occupational therapy, check out this one.

We’ve divided these abbreviations into three sections: clinical terminology, professional and credentialing terminology, and interprofessional designations. As the bulk of our abbreviations fall into the clinical category, we’ll start there. 

Clinical Physical Therapy Abbreviations

Here are some of the physical therapy abbreviations and shorthand terms commonly seen in documentation. As with any abbreviation used for medical records and legal documents, a facility may have a prior agreed-upon list that supersedes anything that follows here, so consult with your company’s compliance department or EMR superuser for more information. 

While on the subject of compliance, the push for more inclusive language and transparency has led some agencies and organizations to eliminate abbreviations outright. With this in mind, a text expander—which is built into the WebPT EMR—can change designated abbreviations into their full-text equivalents, saving you the time and headache of accounting for yet another administrative hurdle. 


AAROM – active assistive range of motion
ABD – abduction
AC – acromioclavicular (joint)
ACDF – anterior cervical discectomy and fusion
ACL – anterior cruciate ligament
AD – assistive device
ADD – adduction
ADL – activity/activities of daily living
AFO – ankle foot orthosis
AICD – automatic 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
C-Collar – cervical collar
CABG – coronary artery bypass graft (open heart surgery)
CAD – coronary artery disease
CAM Boot – control ankle motion boot
CGA – contact guard assist
CHF – congestive heart failure
CKC – closed kinetic chain
CMC – carpometacarpal (joint)
C/O – complains of
COPD – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
CP – cold pack, cerebral palsy
CPM – continuous passive motion
CTx – cervical traction
CVA – cerebrovascular accident


DC – discharge (or D/C)
DDD – degenerative disc disease
DF – dorsiflexion
DIP – distal interphalangeal (joint)
DJD – degenerative joint disease
DNR – do not resuscitate
DVT – deep vein thrombosis


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


GH – glenohumeral (joint)
GSW – gunshot wound


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
HR – humeroradial (joint)
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
IP – interphalangeal (joint)
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
LUE – left upper extremity


Max A – maximum assist
MCL – medial collateral ligament
MCP – metacarpophalangeal (joint)
MD – medical doctor
MFR – myofascial release
MHP – moist hot pack
MI – myocardial infarction
Min A – minimum assist
MLT – muscle length test
Mm – muscle
MMT – manual muscle test
Mob – mobilization
MVA – motor vehicle accident
Mod I – modified independent


NBQC – narrow base quad cane
NDT – neuro-developmental technique
NKA – no known allergies
NMES – neuromuscular electrical stimulation
NWB – non-weight bearing
NPO –nothing by mouth


O2 – oxygen
OA – osteoarthritis
OKC – open kinetic chain
OOB – out of bed


P – pain
PCL – posterior cruciate ligament
PCP – primary care provider
PE – pulmonary embolism
PEDS – pediatrics
PEG – percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy
PF – plantarflexion
Pfin – paraffin bath
PFPS – patellofemoral pain syndrome
Phono – phonophoresis
PICC – peripherally inserted central catheter
PIP – proximal interphalangeal (joint)
PLIF – posterior lumbar interbody fusion
PMX (or PMHx) – past medical history
PNF – proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation
PRAFO – pressure relief ankle foot orthosis
PO – by mouth
Pro – pronation
PROM – passive range of motion
Pt – patient
PUW – pick-up walker
PVD – peripheral vascular disease
PWB – partial weight bearing
PD – peritoneal dialysis


Q – every
QC – quad cane
QD – every day
QID – four times a day


R – right
RA – rheumatoid arthritis
RC – rotator cuff
RCT – randomized controlled trial or rotator cuff tear
RD – radial deviation
RICE – rest, ice, compression, elevation
RLE – right lower extremity
RN – registered nurse
ROM – range of motion
Rot – rotation
RT – respiratory therapist/therapy
RU – radioulnar (joint)
RUE – right upper extremity
RW – rolling walker
Rx – treatment or prescription


S (with a line over a lowercase S) – without
SAQ – short arc quad
SB – side bending (or Swiss ball)
SBA – stand-by assist
SBQC - small base quad cane
SC – straight cane or sternoclavicular (joint)
SLR – straight leg raise
SOB – shortness of breath
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
TIA – transient ischemic attack
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
Tx – treatment


UBE – upper body ergometer
UD – ulnar deviation
UE – upper extremity
US – ultrasound
UTI – urinary tract infection


WBAT – weight bearing as tolerated
WBQC – wide-base quad cane
WC (or w/c) – wheelchair
WFL – within functional limits
WHO – wrist hand orthosis
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
Cert. DN – Certified in Dry Needling
Cert. SMT – Certification in Spinal Manipulative Therapy
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
CMTPT – Certified Manual Trigger Point 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
Dip. Osteopractic – Diploma in Osteopractic
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®
FDN – Functional Dry Needling Certification
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 Certification
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

Interprofessional Rehab Therapy Abbreviations and Designations

As with most healthcare disciplines, working with other professionals is common for PTs. So to better understand a teammate’s background and expertise, here is a list of some common credentials seen working alongside PTs and PTAs.

APTA – American Physical Therapy Association
BSPT – Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy
CDE – Certified Diabetes Educator
COTA – Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant
DO – Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine
DPT – Doctor of Physical Therapy
DHSc – Doctorate in Health Sciences
LPN – Licensed Practical Nurse
LPT – Licensed Physical Therapist
MD – Medical Doctor
MPT – Master of Physical Therapy
MOT – Master of Occupational Therapy
MSOT – Master of Science in Occupational Therapy
NP – Nurse Practitioner
OT – Occupational Therapist/Therapy
OTA – Occupational Therapy Assistant
OTD – Occupational Therapy Doctorate
OTR/L – Occupational Therapist, Registered/Licensed
PA – Physician’s Assistant
PT – Physical Therapist/Therapy
PTA – Physical Therapist Assistant
RN – Registered Nurse
RPT – Registered Physical Therapist
RT – Respiratory Therapist/Therapy
ScD – Doctor of Science
SLP – Speech-Language Pathologist/Pathology
SLPA – Speech-Language Pathology Assistant

Again, this is not an all-inclusive 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 physical therapy abbreviations, certifications, and specializations!


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