Medical terms can be a mouthful, even for physical therapists (PTs). To keep things simple, they often abbreviate terms when speaking or writing notes. If you don't know what the shortened terms mean, it's important to ask so that understand what has been ordered and participate more actively in your recovery plan.

This article includes a list of abbreviations that physical therapists commonly use when speaking or writing notes. Learning them can help you better understand your rehabilitation program and what the notations in your physical therapy report mean.

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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

  • ā: Before
  • AAROM::Active assistive range of motion
  • ABD: Abduction
  • ACJAcromioclavicular joint
  • ACLAnterior cruciate ligament
  • AD: Assistive device
  • ADD: Adduction
  • ADL: Activities of daily living
  • AFO: Ankle foot orthosis (a type of handle brace)
  • AKA: Above-the-knee amputation
  • Amb: Ambulation
  • AROM: Active range of motion


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


  • C: With
  • CGA: Contact guard assist
  • CKC: Closed kinetic chain
  • CP: Cardiopulmonary (related to the heart and lungs)
  • CPM: Continuous passive motion
  • CTx: Cervical traction

  • DB: Dumbbell
  • DF: Dorsiflexion of the ankle and foot
  • DJD: Degenerative disc disease

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


  • FIM score: Functional independence level
  • FLEX: Flexion (a checkmark is also sometimes used)
  • FWB: Full weight-bearing
  • Fx: Fracture

  • GHJGlenohumeral joint

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


  • I: Independent
  • Inv: Inversion
  • IontoIontophoresis
  • IR: Internal rotation
  • ITBIliotibial band
  • IV: Inversion of the ankle or foot


  • KAFO: Knee-ankle foot orthosis


  • LAQ: Long arc quad
  • LBQC: Large base quad cane (also known as a wide base quad cane, or WBQC)
  • LCL: Lateral collateral ligament
  • LE: Lower extremity
  • LOA: Level of assistance
  • LTG: Long-term goals


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


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


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


  • PCLPosterior cruciate ligament
  • PF: Plantar flexion
  • Pfin: Paraffin bath
  • PFSPatellofemoral syndrome
  • PhonoPhonophoresis
  • PMHx: Past medical history
  • PNFProprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation
  • PRO: Pronation of the foot or ankle
  • PROM: Passive range of motion
  • PT: Physical therapist
  • Pt: Patient
  • PTA: Physical therapy assistant
  • PUW Pick up walker
  • PWB: Partial weight-bearing


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


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


  • 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, or NBQC)
  • SC: Straight cane
  • SLR: Straight leg raise
  • STM: Soft tissue mobilization
  • SUP: Supination
  • SW: Standard walker


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


  • UBE: Upper body ergometer
  • UD: Ulnar deviation (also known as ulnar drift)
  • UE: Upper extremity
  • US: Ultrasound


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


Physical therapists use many different treatment modalities which they will often describe or write on reports as abbreviations. Understanding the terminology can help you gain a fuller understanding of your rehabilitation program and program results.

By Laura Inverarity, DO
 Laura Inverarity, PT, DO, is a current board-certified anesthesiologist and former physical therapist.

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