PT Common Physical Therapy Abbreviations

Even for a physical therapist, medical terms can be a mouthful. For simplicity, they often use acronyms when speaking or writing notes. However, if you don’t know what the shortened term means, you may end up with more questions than answers.

This article includes a list of abbreviations frequently used by physical therapists. Studying them will help you gain a clearer picture of your recovery plan. That said, if you get confused while talking to your doctor, don’t be afraid to speak up.

Abbreviation type

Abbreviations are used in physical therapy for a number of reasons:

  • Assistive Device Abbreviations: These abbreviations are used for various types of devices that help you walk and move, such as crutches and canes.
  • Abbreviation for range of motion: Range of motion refers to how much a joint or body part can move in a range of directions.
  • Abbreviation for treatment modality: These treatments are used to help improve blood flow, muscle contraction, and inflammation.
  • Exercise Equipment Abbreviations: Physical therapists often use abbreviations specific to their practice. For example, some McKenzie-trained physical therapists use the term REIL, which stands for repeated extension of lying. REIL is a push-up exercise.

If you don’t know the meaning of a word in your physical therapy or rehabilitation records, ask your PT. If they’re talking to you using terms you don’t know, ask them to explain.

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Physical Therapy Abbreviation (AZ)

Use this resource to view the most common acronyms in physical therapy and their meanings:

#

  • 50%WB: 50% weight bearing

A sort of

  • ā: before
  • AAROM: Active Assisted Range of Motion
  • ABD: Kidnapping
  • ACJ: acromioclavicular joint
  • ACL: Anterior Cruciate Ligament
  • AD: auxiliary device
  • add: add-in
  • ADL: Activities of Daily Living
  • AFO: Ankle Foot Orthosis (used to treat foot drop)
  • aka: Upper Knee Amputation
  • Amb: move around
  • AROM: Active Range

Second

  • B: bilateral
  • Bids: Twice a day
  • BKA: below-the-knee amputation

C

  • C: yes
  • CGA: Contact Guard Assist
  • CKC: closed kinetic chain
  • CP: Cardiopulmonary
  • CPM: Continuous Passive Movement
  • CTx: cervical traction

D

  • DB: dumbbell
  • DF: Dorsiflexion (ankle)
  • DJD: Degenerative Disc Disease

Second

  • ER: External rotation
  • Estim or ES: Electrical Stimulation
  • EV: eversion (ankle)
  • For example: sports
  • EXT: extension (or slash for extension)

F

  • FIM Score: Level of Functional Independence
  • FLEX: buckling (or a simple check mark for buckling)
  • FWB: full weight
  • Fx: Fracture

G

  • GHJ: glenohumeral joint

H

  • H/o: History
  • HEP: Home Exercise Program
  • HOB: bedside
  • Horiz ABD: Horizontal Outreach
  • Horiz ADD: Horizontal Adduction
  • HP: Thermal Pack
  • HVGS: High Voltage Electrical Stimulation
  • Hx: History

A generation

  • One: Independence
  • Inv: Invert
  • ion: iontophoresis
  • IR: Internal rotation
  • ITB: Iliotibial Band
  • IV: Inversion (ankle)
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K

  • KAFO: Knee Ankle Foot Orthosis

large

  • LAQ: Long Arc Quadrilateral
  • LBQC: Big Bottom Cane (also known as Broad Bottom Cane – WBQC)
  • LCL: Collateral Ligament
  • LE: lower extremities
  • LOA: Level of Assistance
  • LP: acute lumbar puncture
  • LTG: Long Term Goals

Meter

  • MCL: Medial Collateral Ligament
  • MFR: Myofascial Release
  • MHP: moist heat
  • mm: muscle
  • MMT: Manual Muscle Test
  • mobs: mobilize

n

  • NDT: Neurodevelopmental Technology (also known as Bobath Technology)
  • NMES: Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation
  • NWB: non-weight bearing

  • OKC: Open Power Chain
  • OOB: get up

phosphorus

  • PCL: Posterior Cruciate Ligament
  • PF: Plantar flexion
  • Pfin: Paraffin Bath
  • PFS: Patellofemoral Syndrome
  • Phono: Acoustophoresis
  • PMHx: Past medical history
  • PNF: proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation
  • PRO: Pronation
  • PROM: passive range of motion
  • PT: Physical Therapist
  • Platinum: Patient
  • PTA: Physical Therapy Assistant
  • PUW: Pick up a walker
  • PWB: Partial load bearing

ask

  • Q: Every
  • QC: Four Canes
  • QD: Every day
  • QID: Four times a day

R

  • RC: Rotator Cuff
  • RD: Radial deviation (movement of the wrist)
  • RICE: rest, ice, compression, elevation
  • ROM: Range of motion
  • Rot: rotate
  • RW: Rolling Walker
  • Prescription: Treatment

small

  • S: no (none)
  • SAQ: Short Arc Quadrilateral
  • SB: side bend
  • SBA: Standby Assistance
  • SBQC: Small Bottom Square Cane (also known as Narrow Bottom Square Cane—NBQC)
  • SC: Straight crutches
  • SLR: Straight Leg Raise
  • STM: Soft Tissue Mobilization
  • SUP: supination
  • SW: Standard Pacers
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Ton

  • Tuberculosis: Theraband
  • ten: transcutaneous electrical neuromuscular stimulation
  • THA: Total Hip Replacement
  • Ther Ex: Therapeutic Exercise
  • TID: Three times a day
  • TKA: total knee arthroplasty
  • TLSO: Thoracolumbosacral Orthosis
  • TM: Treadmill
  • Trxn: Traction
  • TTWB: Toe Contact Weight Bearing

u

  • UBE: Upper Body Dynamometer
  • UD: ulnar deviation (movement of the wrist)
  • UE: upper limbs
  • United States: Ultrasound

W

  • W/c: Wheelchair
  • WBAT: bearable weight
  • Toilet: Wheelchair
  • WFL: within functional scope
  • WNL: within normal range
  • WW: Wheeled Walker

generalize

Some abbreviations are more meaningful than others.For example, FLEX makes sense buckling. On the other hand, why C being an abbreviation doesn’t make much sense and.

Doctors understand this. They don’t want you to know what every medical term and its acronyms mean. So if you don’t understand something relevant to your care, ask them to explain.

VigorTip words

Your physical therapist doesn’t just provide therapy. They also want to help educate you so you can take an active role in your recovery. Knowing the basics of PT-related terminology can help you gain a more complete picture of your recovery. As always, if you have any questions about your treatment, please consult your PT.