PT medical abbreviations

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PT medical abbreviations are a necessary albeit a time consuming aspect of practicing physical therapy. Finding ways to document efficiently is an important skill for therapists to learn. When considering how to make documentation more efficient, the use of abbreviations or acronyms to shorten commonly-used terms can be a good strategy. To be used correctly, however, you want to make sure that the use of your PT medical abbreviation does not compromise the purpose, quality or clarity of your documentation.

When you choose to use a PT medical abbreviation in your documentation, take time to ensure that your documentation still achieves these goals:
  • The PT medical abbreviation accurately describes what was done and communicated between patient and therapist

  • The PT medical abbreviation  can be easily understood by another therapist who may treat your patient at a later date

  • The PT medical abbreviation can be understood by other healthcare professionals that will be reading your notes

  • The PT medical abbreviation meets the standards of high quality documentation

  • The PT medical abbreviation includes the subjective, objective, assessment and plan components


If you are new to using abbreviations or acronyms in physical therapy, below is a list of commonly used terms to help you get started.

Common physical therapy medical abbreviations and acronyms

Body structures and systems:
  • CNS: Central nervous system
  • CV: Cardiovascular
  • MSK: Musculoskeletal
  • PNS: Peripheral nervous system

Physical therapy tests, measures and body locations:


  • AAROM: Active assist range of motion
  • Abd: Abduction
  • ADD: Adduction
  • A/P: Anterior-posterior
  • AROM: Active range of motion
  • Bil or B/L: Bilateral
  • BLE: Bilateral lower extremity
  • BUE: Bilateral upper extremity
  • C/S: Cervical spine
  • DF: Dorsiflexion
  • ER: External rotation
  • Ev: Eversion
  • Ext: Extension
  • Flex: Flexion
  • Inf: Inferior
  • Inv: Inversion
  • IR: Internal rotation
  • LE: Lower extremity
  • LLE: Left lower extremity
  • L/S: Lumbar spine
  • LT or L: Left
  • LUE: Left upper extremity
  • M/L: Medial-lateral
  • MMT:  Manual muscle testing
  • NPRS: Numeric Pain Rating Scale
  • PAM: Passive accessory motion
  • PIVM: Passive intervertebral motion
  • PF: Plantar Flexion
  • PROM: Passive range of motion
  • ROM: Range of motion
  • RLE: Right lower extremity
  • RT or R: Right
  • RUE: Right upper extremity
  • SI(J): Sacroiliac (joint)
  • Sup: Superior
  • TLJ: Thoracolumbar junction
  • T/S: Thoracic spine
  • UE: Upper extremity
  • ULE: Unilateral lower extremity
  • UUE: Unilateral upper extremity



  • BP: Blood pressure
  • HR: Heart Rate
  • O2 Sat or %O2: Oxygen saturation
  • RPE: Rate of Perceived Exertion
  • RRR: Regular rate and rhythm


  • A&O: Alert and Oriented
  • CGA: Contact guard assist
  • CN I-XII: Cranial Nerve 1-12
  • DGI: Dynamic Gait Index
  • DTR: Deep tendon reflexes
  • EEG: Electroencephalogram
  • EMG: Electromyography
  • EOB: Edge of Bed
  • FGA: Functional Gait Assessment
  • FIM: Functional Independence Measure
  • FTN or FNT: Finger-to-Nose or Finger-Nose Test
  • FWW: Front wheel walker
  • H2S: Heel to Shin
  • LBQC: Large based quad cane
  • MAS: Modified Ashworth Scale (spasticity)
  • MaxA: Maximal assist
  • MinA: Minimal assist
  • ModA: Moderate assist
  • RAM: Rapid alternating movement
  • SBA: Stand by assist
  • SBQC: Small based quad cane
  • SPC: Single point cane
  • Supv: Supervision
  • TotalA: Total assist
  • TUG: Timed Up and Go
  • VOR: Vestibulo-ocular reflex
  • W/C: Wheelchair
  • 4WW: Four wheel walker


Therapeutic Modalities

  • NMES: Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation
  • Estim or ES: Electrical Stimulation
  • ESWT - Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy
  • FES: Functional Electrical Stimulation
  • TENS: Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation
  • US: Ultrasound


Therapeutic interventions and considerations

  • ADLs: Activities of daily living
  • ART: Active Release Therapy
  • CTx: Cervical traction
  • FWB: Full weight bearing
  • HEP: Home exercise program
  • IADLs: Instrumental activities of daily living
  • LTx: Lumbar traction
  • MFD: Myofascial decompression
  • MFR: Myofascial release
  • NPO: Nothing by mouth
  • NWB: Non weight bearing
  • PNF: Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation
  • PWB: Partial weight bearing
  • NMR: Neuromuscular Re-education
  • STM: Soft tissue mobilization
  • Therex or TE: Therapeutic Exercise
  • TTWB: Toe touch weight bearing


Timing and documentation:

  • BID: Twice a day
  • c̅ : With
  • CC: Chief complaint
  • C/O: Complains of
  • D/C: Discharge
  • EMR: Electronic medical record
  • H/O: History of
  • Hx: History
  • IE: Initial eval
  • LTG: Long term goal
  • PHI: Pertinent Health Information
  • PN: Progress Note
  • PMH: Past Medical History
  • POC: Plan of Care
  • PRN: As needed
  • *QD: Once a day
  • STG: Short term goal
  • TID: Three times a day


Common conditions and anatomy encountered by physical therapists

  • AC: Acromioclavicular
  • ACL: Anterior cruciate ligament
  • AD: Alzheimer’s Dementia
  • A. Fib: Atrial fibrillation
  • AKA: Above-the-knee amputee
  • ALS: Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
  • ASD: Autism spectrum disorder
  • BKA: Below-the-knee amputee
  • CA: Cancer
  • CABG: Coronary artery bypass graft
  • CAD: Coronary artery disease
  • CHF: Congestive Heart Failure
  • CMC Joint: Carpometacarpal joint
  • COPD: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
  • CP: Cerebral Palsy
  • CVA: Cerebrovascular accident/stroke
  • DDD: Degenerative disc disease
  • DJD: Degenerative joint disease
  • DM I/II: Diabetes Mellitus Type 1/Type 2
  • DVT: Deep vein thrombosis
  • ESRD: End-Stage Renal Disease
  • Fx: Fracture
  • GH: Glenohumeral
  • IP Joint: Interphalangeal joint
  • LCL: Lateral collateral ligament
  • MCL: Medial collateral ligament
  • MS: Multiple Sclerosis
  • OSA: Obstructive Sleep Apnea
  • PAD: Peripheral artery disease
  • PCL: Posterior cruciate ligament
  • PCS: Post Concussion Syndrome
  • PD: Parkinson’s Disease
  • PF: Plantar fasciitis
  • PVD: Peripheral vascular disease
  • SC Joint: Sternoclavicular Joint
  • SCI: Spinal Cord Injury
  • TBI: Traumatic Brain Injury
  • TKA: Total knee arthroplasty
  • THA: Total hip arthroplasty
  • TMT Joint: Tarsometatarsal joint


PT specializations

  • ACCE: Academic Coordinator of Clinical Education
  • CCCE: Clinical Coordinator of Clinical Education
  • CCS: Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Certified Specialist
  • CFMT: Certified Functional Manual Therapist
  • CHT: Certified Hand Therapist
  • CI: Clinical Instructor
  • CLT: Certified Lymphedema Therapist
  • COMT: Certified Orthopedic Manual Therapist
  • COTA: Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant
  • GCS: Geriatric Certified Specialist
  • NCS: Neurologic Certified Specialist
  • OCS: Orthopedic Certified Specialist
  • PCS: Pediatric Certified Specialist
  • PTA: Physical Therapy Assistant
  • SLPA: Speech Language Pathology Assistant


*Note, the Joint Commission has a published list of “Do not use” abbreviations and they recommend writing “daily” as opposed to using QD

Things to remember when using when using a a PT medical abbreviation or acronym

As mentioned above, the use of a PT medical abbreviation or acronym can be a helpful tool to increase the efficiency of documentation. We’ve already reviewed some important considerations when using abbreviations or acronyms to help ensure your documentation is still thorough and understandable by other healthcare providers that may also care for your patient.

As you begin to incorporate some of these abbreviations and acronyms into your documentation, here are a few tips to help you be the most successful which are in line with recommendations that the American Physical Therapy Association has published on this matter:
  • Use abbreviations and acronyms sparingly

  • Minimize the use of abbreviations and acronyms in notes that are likely to be read by healthcare providers outside of the therapy professions such as initial evaluations, discharge and progress notes. This will ensure these providers understand your findings, assessments and recommendations for your shared patients as this will improve continuity of care.

  •  Check with your employer to learn whether there is a list of approved acronyms or abbreviations that you can use when documenting.

  •  Remember that treatment-specific abbreviations may only be familiar to those therapists that have taken a continuing education course in that treatment technique or modality. Minimize the use of these abbreviations or be sure to define them within your notes somewhere in the case that another therapist will also treat that patient at some point.

  •  When in doubt, write it out. A PT medical abbreviation is only useful if they maintain the clarity and effectiveness of your documentation. If there is a chance someone will not understand your PT medical abbreviation or confuse it for another term, write it out instead.

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