Abbreviations in physiotherapy

Original Editor - Ruairi O'Donohoe

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Introduction[edit | edit source]

Abbreviations assist healthcare professionals to streamline documentation and make more effective use of their time. These abbreviations should be recognised and agreed upon in order to ensure clear communication and prevent avoidable errors in patient care.

Approved abbreviations may vary widely by facility, area of practice, and geographical location. Below is a list of commonly used abbreviations that are relevant to physiotherapy practice.

Abbreviations[1][2][3]:[edit | edit source]

Units:[edit | edit source]

Centimeter  cm
Gram  g 
Kilocalorie  kcal
Kilogram  Kg
Litre  L
Milligram  mg
Millilitre  ml
Millimetre  mm
Millimole  Mmol


Frequency and time:[edit | edit source]

b.d./b.i.d. Twice daily
Mane In the morning
Nocte At night
p.r.n. When required
q.d.s./q.i.d. Four times daily
STAT Immediately
Tarde In the evening
t.d.s./t.i.d. Three times daily
h Hour
Mins. Minute
s second


Routes of Administration:[edit | edit source]

IV Intravenously
IM Intramuscularly
NG Nasogastric
PEG Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrotomy
PO Per Oral (oral by mouth)
PV Per vaginal
SC Subcutaneously
PR Per Rectum
SL Sublingually


Never abbreviate:[edit | edit source]

Patient's resuscitation status
Drug names
Right OR Left Except when used as part of an approved abbreviation
+++, >, < Avoided unless used as part of an official grading system
+ve, -ve Can use Pos. and Neg. instead

Patient/Service users name


No abbreviations on a consent form
No abbreviations on an incident report

A[edit | edit source]

ABBREVIATION DEFINITION
AAA Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
AAROM active assist range of motion
ABD abduction
ABG

Arterial blood gas

ACDF anterior cervical discectomy and fusion
ACL anterior cruciate ligament
ACTH adrenocorticotropic hormone
ACJ acromioclavicular joint
ACS Acute coronary syndrome
AD assistive device
ADD adduction
ADL activities of daily living
AFO ankle foot orthosis
AIDS acquired immune deficiency syndrome
ASIS Anterior superior iliac spine
AKA above knee amputation
ALS amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
AMS altered mental status
AMA against medical advice
Amb ambulation
Ant anterior
A/P anterior-posterior
Ab Antibody
ACE Angiotensin converting enzyme
ADH Anti-diuretic hormone
ADHD Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
AF, Afib Atrial fibrillation
AR acute rehabilitation
AROM active range of motion

B[edit | edit source]

ABBREVIATION DEFINITION
B bilateral
BEA below elbow amputation
BKA below knee amputation
BOS base of support
BP blood pressure
bpm beats per minute

C[edit | edit source]

ABBREVIATION DEFINITION
c (with a line over it) with
C0/C1 Atlanto-axial joint
C1-7 Cervical vertebrae 1-7
CABG Coronary artery bypass graft
CAD Coronary artery disease
Cal Calorie
CBC Complete blood count
CC chief complaint, current complaint
CCA Common carotid artery
CCU Coronary care unit
CES Cauda equina syndrome
CFS Chronic fatigue syndrome
CGA Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment or Contact Guard Assist
CHF Congestive heart failure
c/o Complains of
CO Cardiac output
CO2 Carbon dioxide
COTA Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant
CN cranial nerve
COPD Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
CPAP Continuous positive airway pressure
CPM continuous passive motion machine
CPR Cardio-pulmonary resuscitation
creps Crepitations
CRF Chronic renal failure
CSF Cerebrospinal fluid
CT Computerised tomography
CTO cervicothoracic orthosis
CTS Carpal tunnel syndrome
CTx cervical traction
CVA Cerebrovascular accident
CVP Central venous pressure

D[edit | edit source]

ABBREVIATION DEFINITION
DASH Disability of arm, shoulder, hand
D/C Discharge
DBP diastolic blood pressure
DDx Differential diagnosis
DDD Degenerative disc disorder
Dec Decreased
DF Dorsiflexion
DHS Dynamic hip screw
DI Diabetes Insipidus
DJD Degenerative joint disease
DM Diabetes mellitus
DOB Date of birth
DOE Dyspnoea on exertion

E[edit | edit source]

ABBREVIATION DEFINITION
ECG electrocardiogram
ED emergency department
EEG electroencephalogram, electroencephalograph
EMG electromyogram, electromyography
EOB edge of bed
ER external rotation
EVD extraventricular drain
Ext extension
Ev eversion

F[edit | edit source]

ABBREVIATION DEFINITION
Fx Fracture
FFH fall from height
FVC Forced vital capacity
FWB Full weight bearing
F/U Follow up
FSH Follicle stimulating hormone
FRC Functional residual capacity
Flex Flexion
FIM Functional independence measure
FHS Foetal heart sounds
FHR Foetal heart rate
FEV Forced expiratory volume
FEV1 Forced expiratory volume in one second
FET Forced expiratory technique
FES Functional electrical stimulation
FAS fetal alcohol syndrome
FWW front-wheeled walker

G[edit | edit source]

ABBREVIATION DEFINITION
GCS Glasgow coma scale
GBS Guilllain-Barré Syndrome
GDM Gestational diabetes mellitus
GFR Glomerular filtration rate
GFSH Growth factor stimulating hormone
GH Growth hormone
GHJ glenohumeral joint
GMFCS Gross Motor Function Classification Scale
GRH Growth releasing hormone
GTT Glucose tolerance test
GSW gunshot wound

H[edit | edit source]

ABBREVIATION DEFINITION
Hb Haemoglobin
HIV Human immunodeficiency virus
HIVD Herniated intervertebral disc
H/O History of
HO heterotrophic ossification
HOB head of bed
HR Heart rate
HRT Hormone replacement therapy
HS Heart sounds
H Sit. High sitting
Ht Height
HTN Hypertension
Hx History
HGH Human growth hormone
Hep A, B, C Hepatitis A, B, C
HEP Home exercise program
HDL High density lipoprotein
HCV Hepatitis C virus
HKFO hip-knee-ankle-foot arthosis
H&C Huff and cough
HH home health
HI Head injury
HBV Hepatitis B Virus
HBH hand behind head
HBB Hand behind back

I[edit | edit source]

ABBREVIATION DEFINITION
I Independence
Ig Immunoglobulin
I:E Inspiratory:expiratory (ratio)
ICU Intensive Care Unit
ICS Intercostal space
ICP Intracranial pressure
ICD Intercostal drain
ICA  Internal carotid artery
I&D incision and drainage
IFC Interferential current
Inf. Inferior 
IMV Intermittent mandatory ventilation
Inv. Inversion
IPPV Intermittent positive pressure ventilation
IPPR Intermittent positive pressure respiration
IVC Inferior vena cava
IPPB Intermittent positive pressure breathing 
IFC interferential current
IVSD Interventricular septal defect
IVD Intervertebral disc
IP inpatient
IR internal rotation
IRDS Infant respiratory distress syndrome
IRF inpatient rehabilitation facility
IRV Inspiratory reserve volume
ISC Intermittent self catheterisation
ISWT Incremental Shuttle Walk Test
ITB Iliotibial band
I/T Intermittent 

J[edit | edit source]

ABBREVIATION DEFINITION
JCA Juvenile chronic arthritis
JDM Juvenile diabetes mellitus
JRA Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
jt joint
JVP jagular venous pressure


K[edit | edit source]

ABBREVIATION DEFINITION
KAFO knee ankle foot orthosis


L[edit | edit source]

ABBREVIATION DEFINITION
L 1-5 Lumbar vertebrae 1-5
LBP Low back pain 
LBQC large-based quad cane
LBW Low birth weight
LCL Lateral collateral ligament 
LCM Left costal margin
LDL Low-Density-Lipoprotein type
LE lower extremity
LFT Liver function test
LHF Left heart failure
Ligs. Ligaments
LOC Loss of consciousness
LOW Loss of weight
LP Lumbar puncture
LTx lumbar traction
LMN lower motor neuron
LOS length of stay
LSO lumbrosacral orthosis
LTG long-term goal






M[edit | edit source]

ABBREVIATION DEFINITION
MAP mean arterial pressure
MAS Motor assessment scale
MaxA Maximum assistance
MCA Middle cerebral artery
MCP Metacarpophalangeal
MD Muscular dystrophy
MI myocardial infarction
MinA minimal assistance
Meds Medications
M/L Medial-lateral
Mhz Megahertz
MFR myofascial release
MMSE Mini mental state examination
MMT Manual muscle testing 
ModA moderate assistance
ModI modified independence
MRI Magnetic resonance imaging
MTP, MTrP myofascial trigger point
MTP Metatarsophalangeal
MVA Motor vehicle accident
MVD Mitral valve disease
MS multiple sclerosis
MCL medial collateral ligament





N[edit | edit source]

ABBREVIATION DEFINITION
NBM Nil by Mouth
NAD No abnormality detected
NCV Nerve conduction study
Neb. Nebuliser/nebulised
NIBP Non-invasive blood pressure
NICU Neonatal intensive care unit
NIDDM Not insulin dependent diabetes mellitus
NIHSS National Institute of Health Stroke Scale 
NIMV Non invasive mask ventilation
NIPV Non invasive pressure ventilation
NP Non productive
NPO nothing by mouth
NT not tested
NMES neuromuscular electrical stimulation
NWB Non weight bearing
NSMDA Neurosensory Motor Developmental Assessment
NDT neurodevelopmental technique

-




O[edit | edit source]

ABBREVIATION DEFINITION
O2 Oxygen
OPD Outpatients Department
Ortho. Orthopaedics
OA osteoarthritis
ORIF open reduction, internal fixation
OOB out of bed
OT Occupational Therapy


P[edit | edit source]

ABBREVIATION DEFINITION
p (with a line over it) after
P poor (used in muscle testing)
Paed Paediatrics
P/A posterior/anterior
para paraplegia
PCL posterior cruciate ligament
PEEP positive end expiratory pressure
PF plantar flexion
PMHx past medical history
PNF proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation
PNI peripheral nerve injury
POC plan of care
POMR problem-oriented medical record
post. posterior
post-op after surgery
PRE progressive resistive exercise
pre-op before operation
PROM passive range of motion
PSIS posterior superior iliac spine
PTB patellar tendon bearing
pt patient
PT physiotherapy/ physical therapy, physiotherapist/

physical therapist

PTA physical therapist assistant
PVC premature ventricular contractions
PVD peripheral vascular disease
PWB partial weight bearing
PD Parkinson's Disease
PDMS Peabody Developmental Motor Scale 
PE pulmonary embolism
PEDI Paediatric Evaluation of Disability Inventory 
PEEP Positive end expiratory pressure 
PEFR Peak expiratory flow rate
PENS Percutaneous electrical nerve stimulator
PFR Peak flow rate
PFT Pulmonary function test
PICA Posterior inferior cerebral artery
PIP Proximal interphalangeal

Q[edit | edit source]

ABBREVIATION DEFINITION
quad. Quadraplegia
quads. Quadriceps

R[edit | edit source]

ABBREVIATION DEFINITION
ROM  Range Of Movement
RA Rheumatoid arthritis
Rehab – rehabilitation
RDS - Respiratory distress syndrome
Rh -ve - Rhesus factor negative
Rh +ve - Rhesus factor positive
RHD - Rheumatic heart disease
R/O - rule out
RR Respiratory rate
RPE Rating of percieved exertion
RTI Respiratory tract infection

S[edit | edit source]

ABBREVIATION DEFINITION
S supervision
S1-5 Sacral vertebrae (1-5)
SpO2 Oxygen saturation
SAH Subarachnoid haemorrhage
SBP systolic blood pressure
SBA stand by assistance
SBQC small-based quad cane
SDH Subdural haemorrhage/haematoma
SIJ Sacroiliac joint
S/L Side lying
SLAP Superior labrum anterior-posterior lesion
SLE Systemic lupus erythematosus
SLR Straight leg raising 
SLS Single leg stance
s/p status-post
SPC Single point cane 
STM Soft tissue mobilization
STS sit to stand
SVC Superior vena cava
sx surgery
SACH solid ankle cushion heel
SCI spinal cord injury
SCJ sternoclavicular joint
SNF skilled nursing facility
SOAP – subjective, objective, assessment, plan
SOB shortness of breath
STG short-term goal
sup. superior

T[edit | edit source]

ABBREVIATION DEFINITION
TENS Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation
TFA Transfemoral amputation
TFL Tensor fasciae latae
Tx Traction
THA Total hip arthroplasty
THR Total hip replacement
TIA Transient ischaemic attack
TKA Total knee arthroplasty
TKR Total knee replacement
TLSO thoracolumbrosacral orthosis
TLR Tonic labyrinthine reflex
TMJ temporomandibular joint
TNR tonic neck reflex
TA, TrA Transversus abdominis 
TRH Thyrotropin-releasing hormone
TSH Thyroid stimulating hormone
TotalA total assistance
TTA Transtibial amputation
TTP tenderness to palpation
TUG Timed up and go
TV Tidal volume
TBI Traumatic brain injury
TB Tuberculosis
T1-12 Thoracic vertebrae (1-12)

 U[edit | edit source]

ABBREVIATION DEFINITION
UE upper extremity
UVR Ultraviolet radiation
US, U/S Ultra sound
U/O Urine output
UMN Upper motor neuron
ULTT Upper limb tension test
UTI urinary tract infection



V[edit | edit source]

ABBREVIATION DEFINITION
VAS Visual Analogue Scale
VBI Vertebrobasilar insufficiency
VC Vital capacity
VEP Visual evoked potential
VF Ventricular fibrillation
VS Vital signs


W[edit | edit source]

ABBREVIATION DEFINITION
WB Weight bearing
WBAT weight bearing as tolerated
W/C Wheelchair
wk week
Wt Weight
2WF Two-wheeled frame
4WF Four-wheeled frame
Wee-FIM Paediatric functional independence measure
WFL Within functional limits
WNL Within normal limits
w/o Without

X[edit | edit source]

Y[edit | edit source]

ABBREVIATION DEFINITION
y/o Years old

Z[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]


  1. Castin, Meredith. The most common physical therapy abbreviations. Available from:https://www.webpt.com/blog/post/the-most-common-physical-therapy-abbreviations/ (accessed 04/29/2020).
  2. Health Service Executive.https://www.hse.ie/eng/about/who/qid/quality-and-patient-safety-documents/abbreviations.pdf. NHO Abbreviations booklet.Available from: (accessed 29 April 2020)
  3. Bottomley JM. Quick reference dictionary for physical therapy. Slack Incorporated; 2000.