Understanding PT Credentials and Certifications

It’s no secret that that health care loves its acronyms – MD, NP, CMTPT, DPT.The list goes on.

At Tidewater Physical Therapy, our clinicians are not only highly degreed, but they also continue their education throughout their career, earning certifications in unique specialties to treat a variety of musculoskeletal dysfunction.

That can mean a lot of letters after the end of names.

To help our patients navigate what those letters actually mean and how the training that goes behind earning them is applicable to helping people move better, reduce pain and increase performance, we’ve put together this acronym guide.

Have questions? Find a physical therapy clinic near you and call our team directly for more information.

ATC (Certified Athletic Trainer): Certified athletic trainers specialize in the prevention, assessment, treatment, and rehabilitation of injuries and illness that can occur largely to athletes.

CCC-SLP (Certification of Clinical Competence for Speech-Language Pathologists):  CCC-SLP is the internationally recognized credential for speech-language pathologists (SLPs). SLPs treat children and adults with a variety of speech and language disorders such as apraxia, stuttering, or receptive language. Other areas of treatment can include oral-motor disorders, swallowing or eating disorders, and hearing loss (lip-reading, speech, alternative communication systems).

CCI (Credentialed Clinical Instructor): CCI is a designation earned by health care providers who primarily work in a clinical setting yet want to enhance and hone their skills in teaching. Those who have completed the program have learned the skills necessary to provide an effective learning environment for students and have enhanced knowledge in providing physical therapy education.

CERT MDT (Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy): Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy® is a philosophy of active patient involvement and education used by practitioners for back, neck, and extremity problems as developed by the McKenzie Institute. MDT uses self-treatment strategies and minimizes manual therapy procedures where appropriate.

CHT (Certified Hand Therapist): Hand therapists specialize in the rehabilitation of the hand, wrist, elbow, and shoulder. CHTs are occupational or physical therapists who have undergone advanced training and study on the upper extremities.

CIMT (Certified Integrated Manual Therapy): Integrated manual therapy is a compilation of diagnostic and treatment methodologies that assess and treat pain, dysfunction, disease, and disability. The IMT approach to care addresses the needs of highly complex patients to identify and treat the underlying causes of dysfunction using a comprehensive and holistic approach.

CMTPT (Certified Myofascial Trigger Point Therapists): Widely known as Dry Needling, CMTPT certified clinicians can treat myofascial pain (that of muscles and the connective tissue in and around it) utilizing a sterile, solid filament needle inserted into the skin and muscle directly at a myofascial trigger point. Myofascial pain often results from muscle injury and repetitive strain.

CSCS (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist): Strength and conditioning specialists are professionals who apply scientific knowledge to training patients and clients to increase performance. CSCSs conduct sport-specific testing sessions, implement effective strength training and conditioning programs as well as provide guidance on nutrition and injury prevention.

DPT (Doctor of Physical Therapy): A DPT holds a doctorate degree in physical therapy. All new physical therapists must hold a doctorate to practice. Physical therapists diagnose and treat individuals who have medical and health-related conditions that limit their abilities to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives. DPTs with a Direct Access Certification may be seen without the prescription from an MD.

FMSC (Functional Movement Systems Certification): Functional Movement Systems is a ranking and grading system that documents movement patterns that are a part of, and key to, normal function. By screening and addressing these patterns, FMS readily identifies function limitations and asymmetries.

MBA (Master of Business Administration):  Core courses of an MBA cover various areas of advanced business practices and theories such as accounting, finance, marketing, human resources, and operations management.

MEd (Master of Education): The MEd is a postgraduate academic degree awarded based on a curriculum to advance knowledge of teaching and learning. Course work generally focuses on teaching, public service, and scholarship.

MPH (Master of Public Health): MPH programs generally focus on the practical applications of public health issues (as opposed to research). Many who achieve an MPH aspire to high-level roles in state, federal, or international health organizations.

MPT (Master of Physical Therapy): An MPT is a post baccalaureate degree awarded upon the completion of an accredited physical therapy education program.

NCS (Neurologic Clinical Specialist): This specialization, established by the American Physical Therapy Association, is the process by which a physical therapist builds upon education and practice to develop a greater depth of knowledge and skills related to neurologic clinical practice.

PRPC (Pelvic Rehabilitation Practitioner Certification): The PRPC distinguishes physical therapy professionals as having an expertise in treating patients with pelvic floor dysfunction. Such patients may suffer from a variety of issues inclusive of bowel and bladder, gynecologic, orthopedic, sexual, or obstetric concerns.

OCS (Orthopedic Clinical Specialist): OCS’s are recognized by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties as having demonstrated specialized knowledge, skill, and experience in orthopedic care exceeding that of an entry level therapist.

SCS (Sports Certified Specialist): The Sports Certified Specialist is an expert in athletic injury management, including acute care, treatment and rehabilitation, prevention, and education. In addition to CPR and Emergency Care Certification, those with this designation must show evidence of 2,000 hours of direct patient care (25% within the last three years) or successful completion of an APTA-credentialed post professional sports clinical residency.

TPI-CGFI (Titleist Performance Institute Certified Golf Fitness Instructor): Certified training through the Titleist Performance Institute focused on the fitness needs and requirements of golfers.