Understanding Physical Therapy Credentials and Certifications



PT (Physical therapist): A PT is a highly-educated, licensed health care professional who can help patients reduce pain and improve or restore mobility. in many cases this can be accomplished without expensive surgery and often reduces the need for long-term use of prescription medications that can be accompanied by possible side effects.


PTA (Physical Therapist Assistant): A physical therapist assistant (sometimes called a PTA) and the physical therapist aide work under the direction and supervision of a licensed physical therapist. PTAs help patients who are recovering from injuries and illnesses regain movement and manage pain.

CERT (Certification): Certification is a process indicating that an individual or institution has met predetermined standards. Many specialty areas have professional organizations that provide certification to individual practitioners. National associations may control the process and development of certification examinations conducted by their specialty interest groups.


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.


DIP MDT (Diplomate in MDT): A physician or physical therapist who has completed a Theoretical and Clinical Component in MDT. A Diploma in MDT is the highest level of competence, training in the theory and practice of Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy of Musculoskeletal disorders. PTPnv has the only International Diplomate in MDT in Nevada.


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 ability 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.


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


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): OCSs 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.


APTA (The American Physical Therapy Association): The APTA is an individual membership professional organization representing more than 90,000 member physical therapists (PTs), physical therapist assistants (PTAs), and students of physical therapy. APTA seeks to improve the health and quality of life of individuals in society by advancing physical therapist practice, education, and research, and by increasing the awareness and understanding of physical therapy's role in the nation's health care system.