DPT - These initials represent PTs with a clinical doctoral degree in physical therapy. They indicate PTs who earned a clinical doctoral degree upon completion of the physical therapist professional program. Also indicates licensed PTs (already holding a certificate, bachelor, or master’s entry-level physical therapist degree) who have completed a post-professional transitional doctoral physical therapist degree program to advance their knowledge and skills to the clinical doctorate level.
PT - The initials PT represent all licensed physical therapists. Physical therapists are licensed professionals who have completed an accredited physical therapist program (professional entry-level degrees have evolved from certificate to clinical doctoral degree) and have passed a licensure examination.
PTA - The initials PTA represent all physical therapist assistants who are permitted to provide physical therapy services under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist. Physical therapist assistants are educated at the associate degree level. Depending on state law, they may be licensed, certified, registered, or unregulated.
Board Certified Specialists
A Board Certified Specialist is certified in a specialized area by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS). A specialist has completed a minimum of 2,000 hours of specialized clinical practice, 25% of which has been in the last 3 years OR has successfully completed an APTA-credentialed post-professional clinical residency that has a curriculum plan reflective of the Description of Specialty Practice. A physical therapist with the specialist designation is a licensed physical therapist who has proven they have the knowledge, skill, and experience exceeding that of the physical therapist at entry to the profession and unique to the area of their specialty scope of practice by successfully passing their specific Specialist Examination.
SCS – Board Certified Sports Specialist. Physical Therapists with the sports specialty demonstrate current knowledge in national First Responder standards and Emergency Cardiovascular Care (ECC), CPR certification and 2,000 hours of direct patient care including examination, evaluation, diagnosis, prognosis, and intervention of sports related injuries.
WCS – Board Certified Women's Health Clinical Specialist. Physical Therapists with a WCS have demonstrated advanced competency in the evaluation and treatment of the unique concerns and problems that women experience. This includes expertise in pelvic floor function and rehabilitation, pregnancy related musculoskeletal concerns and problems, breast cancer related musculoskeletal concerns and problems, sports related injuries and rehabilitation in female athletes and the unique concerns that older women may encounter including osteoporosis and menopause. http://www.womenshealthapta.org/credentialing/specialization.cfm
GCS – Board Certified Geriatric Health Clinical Specialist. Physical Therapists with a GCS have demonstrated advance competency in the evaluation and treatment of the unique concerns and problems that older adults experience. This includes expertise in how aging affects the body and common musculoskeletal and neurological movement disorders that older adults may encounter. Balance and falls, neurological diagnoses such as stroke and Parkinson’s, total joint replacement and changes after prolonged hospitalizations are some of the areas of expertise in therapists with the GCS designation.
CHT – Board Certified Hand Therapist. Physical Therapists with hand certification have demonstrated advanced knowledge of and experience with hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder rehabilitation. They use specialized skills in assessment, planning and treatment to provide therapeutic interventions to prevent dysfunction, restore function and/or reverse the progression of pathology of the upper limb.