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What is a Board-Certified Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist?

What is a Board-Certified Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist?

Date: July 5, 2023


Becoming a Board-Certified Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist (OCS) through the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialists is an accomplishment held by about 20,000 PTs as of June 20221. Out of all physical therapists licensed in the US, about 6% have their OCS2. We are proud that at AOST, 20% of our therapists have earned this designation.

What does it mean when my therapist has their OCS?

Earning your OCS means that your therapist has completed clinical specialization in a specific content area of patient care beyond their entry level board exam3. These therapists have advanced knowledge, experience, and skills in the area of orthopedics that are required to test for their OCS. Therapists have completed 2,000 clinical practice hours in an orthopaedic setting, and have passed a rigorous certification exam for their OCS3.

What if my therapist doesn’t have their OCS?

While it is a great accomplishment for therapists to earn their OCS, not all therapists pursue advanced certification. At AOST, our therapists choose what they want to pursue with their continuing education and take many paths. Our therapists have certifications including sports clinical specialists (SCS), Maitland certification, dry needling certification, hand therapy certification (CHT) and many others. Some of our therapists have also chosen to pursue advanced educational courses on specific topics of interest, though they may not always result in a new certification. Ultimately, all therapists at AOST have your best interest in mind as a patient. They will work with you to achieve your goals and get back to participation in your daily activities.

Schedule an appointment with us today-

If you are in need of a physical therapist to help you through your injury, schedule an appointment today. We have therapists throughout MD, DC and VA ready to help you through your injury.

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  1. 1.Louw A, Puentedura EJ, Reed J, Zimney K, Grimm D, Landers MR. A controlled clinical trial of preoperative pain neuroscience education for patients about to undergo total knee arthroplasty. Clinical Rehabilitation. 2019;33(11):1722-1731. doi:10.1177/0269215519857782
  2. Louw, A. Pain Neuroscience Education 101.
  3. Louw, Adriaan PhD, PT*,†; Diener, Ina PhD, PT†; Landers, Merrill R. DPT, PhD, PT‡; Puentedura, Emilio J. DPT, PhD, PT*,‡. Preoperative Pain Neuroscience Education for Lumbar Radiculopathy: A Multicenter Randomized Controlled Trial With 1-Year Follow-up. Spine 39(18):p 1449-1457, August 15, 2014. | DOI: 10.1097/BRS.0000000000000444
  4. Louw, A., et al. (2019). A controlled clinical trial of preoperative pain neuroscience education for patients about to undergo total knee arthroplasty. Clin Rehabil: 269215519857782.
  5. Manchikanti, L., et al., Therapeutic use, abuse, and nonmedical use of opioids: a ten-year perspective. Pain physician, 2010. 13 (5): p. 401-35
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