Medical abbreviations for therapists


Medical abbreviations, in the field of therapy, are important to become familiar with.

Across different age populations and disorders, it’s common for therapists to work with clients who have atypical medical histories and characteristics requiring a basic knowledge of medical abbreviations. For example, therapists often treat children with medically complex conditions like Cerebral Palsy, genetic disorders, or chromosomal abnormalities.

Therapists working with adults might have clients on their caseload who have a history of stroke, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), or a progressive disease such as Parkinson’s.

In providing care for clients like these, providers often come across medical abbreviations when reading documentation from other providers, such as physicians or other medical specialists. It’s also expected that clinicians use medical abbreviations so they can complete documentation like treatment notes and reports more efficiently.

Keep this guide handy as a reference for some of the most commonly used medical terms and medical abbreviations.


AAC: Augmentative and alternative communication

AC: Before meals

ADA Diet: American Diabetes Association Diet

ADL: Activities of daily living

A.Fib.: Atrial fibrillation

ALS: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

AMA: Against medical advice

AMI: Acute myocardial infarction (heart attack)

A&O: Alert and oriented

A/P: Anterior-posterior

ASAP: As soon as possible

ASD: Autism spectrum disorder

ASL: American Sign Language


BID: Twice a day

B/L: Bilateral

BM: Bowel movement

BMI: Body mass index

BP: Blood pressure

BR: Bed rest

bs: Bowel sounds

BS: Breath sounds

B/S: Bedside

Bx: Biopsy


: With

C1, C2: First cervical vertebrae, second, etc.

CA: Cardiac arrest

ca: Cancer

CABG: Coronary artery bypass graft

CAD: Coronary artery disease

cal: Calorie

cath: Catheter

CC: Chief complaint

CHF: Congestive heart failure

CCU: Coronary care unit

CHI: Closed head injury

CN: Cranial nerve

c/o: Complains of

COTA: Certified occupational therapy assistant

COPD: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

CP: Cerebral palsy

CRNP: Certified registered nurse practitioner

CT: Computerized tomography

CVA: Cerebral vascular accident

CXR: Chest X-ray


d: day

d/c: Discontinue

DC: Discharge

DM: Diabetes mellitus

DNK: Do not know

DNKA: Did not keep appointment

DNR: Do not resuscitate

DNT: Did not test

DOB: Date of birth

DOE: Dyspnea on exertion

d/t: Due to

Dx: Diagnosis


EKG: Electrocardiogram

ECHO: Echocardiogram

EEG: Electroencephalogram

EMG: Electromyography

ENT: Ear, nose, and throat

ESRD: End-stage renal disease

ext: External, exterior


F: Farenheit

FH: Family history

Fib: Fibrillation

fl: Fluid

f/u: Follow up

FWB: Full weight bearing

FX: Fracture


GCS: Glasgow Coma Scale

GE: Gastroenterology

GERD: Gastroesophageal reflux disease

G/E: Gastroenteritis

gest.: Gestation

G.I.: Gastrointestinal

GNA: Geriatric nursing assistant

GRAS: Generally recognized as safe

GSW: Gunshot wound


h: Hour

H/A: Headache

HBP: High blood pressure

h.d.: At bedtime

HEENT: Head, eyes, ears, nose, throat

HEP: Home exercise program

Hgb: Hemoglobin

HF: Heart failure

H20: Water

h/o: History of

HOB: Head of bed

H&P: History and physical

HPI: History of present illness

HR: Heart rate

HTN: Hypertension

Hx: History


ICP: Intracranial pressure

ICU: Intensive care unit

IDDM: Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus

imp.: Impression

Incr.: Increased

int.: Internal

I&O: Intake and output

irreg.: Irregular

IV: Intravenously


J, jt. joint

JODM: Juvenile onset diabetes mellitus


K: Potassium, kidney


L: Left, lower, light, liver, lumbar

L&D: Labor and delivery

L1, L2: Second lumbar vertebrae, third, etc…

Lab: Laboratory

lac.: Laceration

lat.: Lateral

LBW: Low birth weight

L.E.: Lower extremities

LGE: Large for gestational age

liq.: Liquid

LOC: Loss of consciousness, level of consciousness

LOS: Length of stay

LP: Lumbar puncture

LPN: Licensed practical nurse

LUE: Left upper extremity

LV: Left ventricle

Lx: Larynx

L&W: Living and well


MA: Mental age

max.: Maxillary, maximum

MBC: Maximum breathing capacity

MBSS: Modified barium swallow study

MCA: Middle cerebral artery

MD: Muscular dystrophy

med.: Medicine

MG: Myasthenia gravis

MI: Myocardial infarction

MICU: Medical intensive care unit

mod: Moderate

MRI: Magnetic resonance imaging

MRSA: Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus

MS: Multiple sclerosis

MVA: Motor vehicle accident


n.: Nerve

Neg.: Negative

neur.: Neurology

NG: Nasogastric

NICU: Neonatal intensive care unit

NKA: No known allergies

NOS: Not otherwise specified

NPO: Nothing by mouth

NSA: No specific abnormality

N&V: Nausea and vomiting

NYD: Not yet diagnosed


o: None

O: Oral

O2: Oxygen

O2 sat.: Oxygen saturation

Obs: Observation

ODD: Oppositional defiant disorder

O/E: On examination

O.M.: Otitis media

O.M.E.: Otitis media with effusion

OOB: Out of bed

Op.: Operation

OSHA: Occupational Safety and Health Administration

ot.: Ear

Oto: Otolaryngology

OTC: Over-the-counter

O.T.: Occupational therapy

OR: Operating room


Path: Pathology

p/c., p.c.: After meals

PD Parkinson’s disease

PE physical exam, pressure equalization (tubes)

Ped.: Pediatrics

PEG: Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy

PH: Past history

PI: Present illness

PICU: Pulmonary intensive care unit

PMH: Past medical history

p.o.: By mouth

pos.: Positive

PSH: Past surgical history

Psych.: Psychiatry

Pt.: Patient

PT: Physical therapy

PTA: Prior to admission


q: Every

q.h.: Every hour

q.i.d.: Four times a day

quad.: Quadriplegic


R: Right

RCA: Right coronary artery

RD: Respiratory distress

rehab.: Rehabilitation

RLAS: Rancho Los Amigos Scale

RN: Registered nurse

R/O: Rule out

ROM: Range of motion

ROS: Review of symptoms

RT: Radiation therapy

RUE: right upper extremity

Rx: Prescription, therapy


s: Without

s.c.: subcutaneously

SCD: Sudden cardiac death

SCI: Spinal cord injury

schiz: Schizophrenia

SGA: Small for gestational age

SL: Under the tongue

SNF: Skilled nursing facility

SOAP: Subjective, objective, assessment, plan

SOB: Shortness of breath

S/P: status post

SW: Social worker

Sx: Symptoms

Sz: Seizure


T: Temperature

T&A: Tonsils and adenoids; tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy

TB: Tuberculosis

TBI: Traumatic brain injury

temp: temperature

TIA: Transient ischemic attack

TO: Telephone order

TPN: Total parenteral nutrition

TPR: temperature, pulse, respiration

trach: Tracheostomy

tw: Twice a week

Tx: Treatment


UE: Upper extremity

u/o: Under observation

US: Ultrasound

UTI: Urinary tract infection


v: Vein

VFSS: Videofluoroscopic swallow study

vit.: Vitamin

VLBW: Very low birth weight

VO: Verbal order

VS: Vital signs


WAIS: Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale

W/C: Wheelchair

WFL: Within functional limits

WNL: Within normal limits

wt.: Weight

w/u: Workup


x: Multiplied by; times

XRT: X-ray therapy


y.o.: Years old

yrs.: Years


Zn: zinc

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