Abbreviations. Acronyms. What do we use them for BTW?
Our lives are surrounded by acronyms. I’d suggest it’s more an attempt at efficiency as opposed to laziness, but regardless, we see them everywhere and have adapted ourselves to them.
When it comes to our working days, if you’re anything like me, time is measured, and tasks are allocated on a pretty strict timeline. There’s laundry to do, appointments to book, clients to treat… Let the juggling commence!
So when it comes to treatment notes it’s efficient to abbreviate.
It may look like hieroglyphics to some, but all the pertinent info (there’s one) is documented, and there’s only so much space in our SOAPs (and there’s another!).
Many acronyms and abbreviations are universally understood, so no harm no foul. But when was the last time you actually said the word in full, much less wrote it down? It can serve as a good reminder of the muscle(s) / bone(s) / joint(s), and if nothing else is a nice way to stretch your Masseter! (LMAO).
‘SCM’. Sternocleidomastoid… ahh, what a satisfying word. A good example of a muscle whose name identifies its attachment points, sternum, clavicle and mastoid process. ‘Lev. Scap’. Levator Scapula. What does that do? (e)legates the scapula (primarily). ‘The glutes. Probably talking about Gluteus Maximus? Not a character from the movie Gladiator, but a very common muscle to work through to get to Piriformis when a client presents with pseudo-sciatic symptoms.
I’m not going to list them all, but you get the idea. Have a think of muscles that you generally use layman terms for rather than the anatomical vocabulary. Some that come to mind may include the ‘quads’, ‘hamstrings’ and ‘calves. How come the lower appendicular gets a raw deal with nicknames? IDK.
During my time as a massage therapy instructor, I’d offer my students ways to remember muscles and bony landmarks by grouping insertion points, common joints crossed, planes of movements, and so on. The rotator cuff is a good example of this: The SITS muscles. Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, Teres minor, Subscapularis. Pop quiz – can you tell me which insert onto the greater tubercle and which onto the lesser tubercle of the Humerus? Of course, you can! Remembering whether it was Teres Major or Teres Minor was one of those pause-to-think moments for some. “Ah-ha, Teres Major is ‘Lats little helper’, so it must be Teres Minor”.
Another useful trick when recalling the names and order of the Carpals was an easy to remember phrase… “Some Lovers Try Positions That They Can’t Handle”. BTW, as a reminder, the carpals are Scaphoid, Lunate, Triquetrum, Pisiform, Trapezium, Trapezoid, Capitate, Hamate.
OMG, I get it, shortening things up saves time. But sometimes it’s nice to be reminded of what beautiful words these abbreviations and acronyms conceal. Keep the efficiency in your SOAPS by all means, but every now and again consider the full, uncut version of each medial, lateral, superior, inferior, proximal, distal, plantar and dorsal appendage. You spend a lot of time and energy learning them. Now take a moment to enjoy them.
Rob Price-Lewis, RMT