Physical Therapy Abbreviations By Type

Electrical stimulation unit in PT.
Take the time to learn PT abbreviations.. Eliza Snow/Getty Images

Physical therapists often use medical abbreviations in their note writing. To the non-trained therapists, these abbreviations and shorthand annotations can often be confusing. Below is a list of commonly used physical therapy abbreviations. You may also see various abbreviations on a prescription for physical therapy from your doctor. Now you too can understand your therapist’s note or your physical therapy prescription and orders!

Weight Bearing Abbreviations

  • NWB – Non Weight Bearing
  • PWB – Partial Weight Bearing
  • TTWB – Toe Touch Weight Bearing
  • WBAT – Weight Bearing as Tolerated
  • FWB – Full Weight Bearing
  • 50%WB - 50 Percent weight bearing

When working with weight bearing restrictions, you will likely need to walk with an assistive device like a cane, crutches, or a walker. Your physical therapist can show you how to use your assistive device and make sure it is sized correctly for you.

Assistive Device Abbreviations

  • AD - Assistive device
  • SC – Straight Cane
  • QC – Quad Cane
  • SBQC – Small Base Quad Cane (also known as a narrow base quad cane (NBQC))
  • LBQC – Large Base Quad Cane (also known as a wide base quad cane (WBQC))
  • PUW – Pick up Walker
  • SW - Standard Walker
  • WW - Wheeled Walker
  • RW – Rolling Walker
  • WC - Wheelchair
  • AFO - Ankle Foot Orthosis (used to treat foot drop)
  • LOA - Level of assist
  • OOB - Out of bed

Range of Motion

  • PROM – Passive Range of Motion
  • AAROM – Active Assisted Range of Motion
  • AROM – Active Range of Motion
  • ADD – Adduction
  • ABD - Abduction
  • FLEX - Flexion (or simply a check mark is used to signify flexion)
  • EXT - Extension (or a slash mark is used to signify extension)
  • DF - Dorsiflexion (of the ankle)
  • PF - Plantarflexion (of the ankle)
  • IV - Inversion (of the ankle)
  • EV - Eversion (of the ankle)
  • Horiz ABD - Horizontal abduction
  • Horiz ADD - Horizontal adduction
  • UD - Ulnar deviation (a motion of the wrist)
  • RD - Radial deviation (a motion of the wrist)
  • SUP -Supination (turning your wrist palm up)
  • PRO - Pronation (turning your wrist palm down)

Therapeutic Modalities

Therapeutic modalities are various treatments used in the physical therapy clinic. These treatments are used to help improve circulation, muscle contractions, and inflammation. There are many different abbreviations for therapeutic modalities.

  • Estim or ES - Electrical stimulation
  • NMES - Neuromuscular electrical stimulation
  • Ionto - Iontophoresis
  • US - Ultrasound
  • TENS - Transcutaneous electrical neuromuscular stimulation
  • Phono - Phonophoresis
  • Trxn - Traction
  • MHP - Moist hot pack
  • CP - Cold pack
  • Pfin - Paraffin bath

Remember that therapeutic modalities are used only to augment and active physical therapy program. They should not be the only treatment that you receive durign physical therapy.

Exercise Equipment

  • TM - Treadmill

Your physical therapist may use a variety of abbreviations in their clinic. For example, some McKenzie-trained physical therapists use the term REIL to indicate the press up exercise. (REIL stands for repeated extension in lying.) Bottom line: if you access your physical therapy and rehab notes and see something you do not understand, just ask your physical therapist.

By learning various physical therapy terms and their abbreviations, you can be a physical therapy and rehab star!

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