Ever been reading an amputee-related magazine, blog, or social media post and seen DBKA, RAEA, O&P, CPO, PT, OT, BBKA, LEA, LLE, or BEA?
Did you feel like you were in an alternate universe or not in the cool kid’s club—totally out of touch with your community?
Don’t worry. It’s understandable, especially if you haven’t been an amputee long. The amputee community and its related medical community are certainly prone to using acronyms.
To help you get up to speed, following is a brief explanation of some of the acronyms you may run across. Knowing these meanings should help clear up this sometimes confusing alphabet soup of terms.
AE, BE, AK, BK, HP, and HD are shorthand to refer to levels of amputation: above-elbow, below-elbow, above-knee, below-knee, hemipelvectomy, and hip disarticulation. In addition, sometimes another letter is placed before these acronyms to denote the placement of the amputation. For example, RAE would mean right above-elbow, LAK would mean left above-knee, SAK would mean single above-knee, and DBK or BBK would mean the same thing—double below-knee or bilateral below-knee. In some cases, an A is placed after the acronyms to mean amputee or amputation. For example, RAEA would mean right above-elbow amputee or amputation).
Other common acronyms that are used to describe limb loss are LEA (lower-extremity amputation or amputee) and LLE (left lower-extremity). By now, you can probably guess what RLE and BLE mean.
Here are some of the most common acronyms listed for quick reference:
HD hip disarticulation
RAE right above-elbow
LAK left above-knee
SAK single above-knee
DBK double below-knee
BBK bilateral below-knee
LLE left lower-extremity
RLE right lower-extremity
The following commonly used acronyms refer to amputation-related professions, fields, and therapies:
O&P orthotic and prosthetic
CP certified prosthetist
CO certified orthotist
CPO certified prosthetist/orthotist
PT physical therapist or physical therapy
OT occupational therapist or occupational therapy