Physical Therapy Abbreviations Commonly Used by PTs

Medical terms can be a mouthful, even for physical therapists. To keep things simple, they often abbreviate terms when speaking or writing notes. But if you don't know what the shortened terms mean, you might end up with more questions than answers.

This article includes a list of abbreviations that physical therapists often use. Learning them will help you feel more clear about your recovery plan. That said, if ever you feel confused when talking to your doctor, don't be afraid to speak up.

Nurse helping woman exercise with dumbbell - stock photo

Blend Images - JGI/Tom Grill / Getty Images

Types of Abbreviations

Abbreviations are used for many reasons in physical therapy:

  • Assistive device abbreviations: These abbreviations are used for various types of devices that help you walk and move about, such as crutches and canes.
  • Range of motion abbreviations: Range of motion refers to how much a joint or body part can move in a range of directions.
  • Therapeutic modalities abbreviations: These treatments are used to help improve blood flow, muscle contractions, and inflammation.
  • Exercise equipment abbreviations: Physical therapists often use abbreviations that are specific to their clinic. For example, some McKenzie-trained physical therapists use the term REIL, which stands for repeated extension in lying. REIL is a kind of press-up exercise.

If you don't know what a word means in your physical therapy or rehab notes, ask your PT about it. And if they use a term you don't know when talking to you, ask them to explain it.

Physical Therapy Abbreviations (A-Z)

Use this resource to review the most common abbreviations in physical therapy and their meanings:

#

  • 50%WB: 50 percent weight bearing

B

  • B: Bilateral
  • BID: Twice a day
  • BKA: Below knee amputation

C

  • DB: Dumbbell
  • DF: Dorsiflexion (of the ankle)
  • DJD: Degenerative disc disease

  • ER: External rotation
  • Estim or ES: Electrical stimulation
  • EV: Eversion (of the ankle)
  • Ex: Exercise
  • EXT: Extension (or a slash mark is used to signify extension)

F

  • FIM score: Functional independence level
  • FLEX: Flexion (or simply a check mark is used to signify flexion)
  • FWB: Full weight bearing
  • Fx: Fracture

  • GHJ: Glenohumeral joint

  • H/o: History of
  • HEP: Home exercise program
  • HOB: Head of bed
  • Horiz ABD: Horizontal abduction
  • Horiz ADD: Horizontal adduction
  • HP: Hot packs
  • HVGS: High voltage galvanic stimulation
  • Hx: History

I

  • I: Independent
  • Inv: Inversion
  • Ionto: Iontophoresis
  • IR: Internal Rotation
  • ITB: Iliotibial band
  • IV: Inversion (of the ankle)

K

  • KAFO: Knee ankle foot orthosis

L

  • LAQ: Long arc quad
  • LBQC: Large base quad cane (also known as a wide base quad cane—WBQC)
  • LCL: Lateral collateral ligament
  • LE: Lower extremity
  • LOA: Level of assist
  • LP: Lumbar puncture acutely
  • LTG: Long term goals

M

  • MCL: Medial collateral ligament
  • MFR: Myofascial release
  • MHP: Moist hot pack
  • Mm: Muscle
  • MMT: Manual muscle test
  • Mobs: Mobilization

N

  • NDT: Neuro developmental technique (also known as Bobath technique)
  • NMES: Neuromuscular electrical stimulation
  • NWB: Non-weight bearing

O

  • OKC: Open kinetic chain
  • OOB: Out of bed

P

  • PCL: Posterior cruciate ligament
  • PF: Plantar flexion
  • Pfin: Paraffin bath
  • PFS: Patellofemoral syndrome
  • Phono: Phonophoresis
  • PMHx: Past medical history
  • PNF: Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation
  • PRO: Pronation
  • PROM: Passive range of motion
  • PT: Physical therapist
  • Pt.: Patient
  • PTA: Physical therapy assistant
  • PUW: Pick up walker
  • PWB: Partial weight bearing

Q

  • Q: Every
  • QC: Quad cane
  • QD: Every day
  • QID: Four times a day

R

  • RC: Rotator cuff
  • RD: Radial deviation (a motion of the wrist)
  • RICE: Rest, ice, compression, elevation
  • ROM: Range of motion
  • Rot: Rotation
  • RW: Rolling walker
  • Rx: Treatment

S

  • S: Without (sans)
  • SAQ: Short arc quad
  • SB: Side bending
  • SBA: Stand by assist
  • SBQC: Small base quad cane (also known as a narrow base quad cane—NBQC)
  • SC: Straight cane
  • SLR: Straight leg raise
  • STM: Soft tissue mobilization
  • SUP: Supination
  • SW: Standard walker

T

  • TB: Theraband
  • TENS: Transcutaneous electrical neuromuscular stimulation
  • THA: Total hip arthroplasty
  • Ther Ex: Therapeutic exercise
  • TID: Three times a day
  • TKA: Total knee arthroplasty
  • TLSO: Thoracic lumbar sacral orthosis
  • TM: Treadmill
  • Trxn: Traction
  • TTWB: Toe touch weight bearing

U

  • UBE: Upper body ergometer
  • UD: Ulnar deviation (a motion of the wrist)
  • UE: Upper extremity
  • US: Ultrasound

W

  • W/c: Wheelchair
  • WBAT: Weight bearing as tolerated
  • WC: Wheelchair
  • WFL: Within functional limit
  • WNL: Within normal limits
  • WW: Wheeled walker

Summary

Some abbreviations make more sense than others. For example, it makes sense that FLEX is short for flexion. On the other hand, it makes much less sense why C is short for with.

Doctors get this. They don't expect you to know what every medical term and its abbreviation means. So if you don't understand something that pertains to your care, ask them to explain.

A Word From Verywell

Your physical therapist doesn't just provide therapy. They also want to help educate you so you can take an active role in your rehab. Understanding the basics of PT-related terms can help you gain a fuller understanding of your rehab. As always, if you have any questions about your therapy, speak with your PT.

Was this page helpful?