Return To Blog

What Do All Those Letters Behind Your Physical Therapist’s Name Mean?

By Sara Peterson - January 28, 2021

Alphabet Soup: What Do All Those Letters Behind Your Therapist’s Name Mean?

In the ever-changing profession of physical therapy, each provider continues their education through courses, classes, and certifications.  Many of the letters following your therapist's name can give you insight into their continuing education and certifications and who can best serve your needs!

Below are some commonly seen abbreviations you may find behind your physical therapist’s name:

PT – Physical Therapist

This designation means that your physical therapist has passed their national boards exam and are licensed to practice personalized patient care.

DPT/MPT – Doctor of Physical Therapy/Masters in Physical Therapy

This designation behind the physical therapist’s name tells you their educational degree.  As of 2015, all physical therapy graduates are required to have a doctorate level education.

PTA – Physical Therapy Assistant

If you see this following your therapist’s name, it means that they are a physical therapy assistant.  These individuals are skilled in patient care and treatment of a variety of health conditions and injuries.  They work hand in hand with the physical therapist in collaboration with techniques to ensure the best quality of care for every patient.

ATC – Athletic Trainer Certified

If you see this following your therapist’s name, it means that they are certified as an athletic trainer.  These individuals have a comprehensive knowledge of sports injuries.  These providers play an important role in the prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation of a wide variety of injuries.

OCS – Orthopedic Clinical Specialist

If your physical therapist has the designation OCS, they are a board-certified specialist in orthopedic physical therapy.  These therapists must meet a required number of patient care hours and pass a national exam to demonstrate competence in their chosen specialty – orthopedics.  These physical therapists are skilled in their examination, evaluation, and hands-on techniques.

MTC – Manual Therapy Certification

If your physical therapist has the designation MTC, they are certified through the University of St. Augustine as a specialist in manual therapy techniques (myofascial release, mobilization, manipulation).  With this certification, physical therapists are required to complete hours of training that include oral, practical, and written exams for each part of the body to demonstrate competency.

FDN – Functional Dry Needling

If your physical therapist has the designation FDN, they are certified in functional dry needling.  This is a neurophysiological therapeutic technique that uses small acupuncture-like needles to target dysfunctional/tight muscle tissue or connective tissue. These physical therapists have a strong background in anatomy and physiology.

GTS – Graston Technique Specialist

If your physical therapist has the designation GTS, they are certified in Graston Technique.  Graston Technique uses a combination of exercise and instrument-assisted manual techniques to decreased myofascial restriction and muscular tightness.

CSCS – Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist

If your physical therapist has the designation CSCS, they are certified through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) as a specialist in improving athletic performance.  These individuals are highly skilled in developing safe strength and conditioning programs, while also providing guidance in injury prevention.

At Peak Physical Therapy we have you covered!

If you want to know more about how your physical therapist is broadening their knowledge and practice, please ask. We love sharing what we are learning and how we can apply our knowledge to your case so you can reach your PEAK!