Ashwini Rao, OTR, EdD

Physical Therapy
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Dr. Rao completed his training in Occupational Therapy from the National Institute for Persons with Physical Disabilities in New Delhi, Indian. He completed a post-graduate Diploma from the All Indian Institute for Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in Mumbai, India. His graduate training included a Masters degree in Occupational Therapy from New York University and Doctoral degree in Movement Sciences from Teachers College Columbia University. He completed a post-doctoral fellowship in Computational Motor Control from the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Dr. Rao primarily sees people with neurological disorders, including Huntington's disease, Parkinson's disease, Ataxia, Tremor and dementia. He conducts comprehensive assessment of mobility, balance, hand function, fall risk, and activities of daily living in order to provide an individualized care plan suited to patients and their families. Dr. Rao is a member of the Huntington's Disease Center of Excellence, Center of Excellence in Alzheimer's disease and the Initiative for Columbia Ataxia and Tremor. He serves on the Executive Committee of the Health Professions task force of the International Parkinson's disease and Movement Disorders Society.

Academic Appointments

  • Professor of Rehabilitation and Regenerative Medicine (Physical Therapy) (in the Gertrude H. Sergievsky Center) at CUMC

Hospital Affiliations

  • NewYork-Presbyterian / Columbia University Irving Medical Center


  • Male

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Insurance Accepted


  • Aetna Signature Administrators
  • EPO
  • HMO
  • Medicare Managed Care
  • NYP Employee Plan
  • NY Signature
  • POS
  • PPO
  • Student Health

Affinity Health Plan

  • Essential Plan
  • Medicaid Managed Care


  • Medicare Managed Care
  • Special Needs

Amida Care

  • Special Needs


  • EPO
  • Great West (National)
  • HMO
  • POS
  • PPO

Empire Blue Cross/Blue Shield

  • EPO
  • HMO
  • Medicare Managed Care
  • PPO

Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield HealthPlus

  • Child/Family Health Plus
  • Essential Plan
  • Medicaid Managed Care

Fidelis Care

  • Child/Family Health Plus
  • Essential Plan
  • Medicaid Managed Care
  • Medicare Managed Care


  • Child/Family Health Plus
  • Leaf (Exchange)
  • Medicaid Managed Care
  • Medicare Managed Care

Local 1199

  • Local 1199

MagnaCare (National)

  • MagnaCare


  • Railroad
  • Traditional Medicare


  • Multiplan

MVP Health Care

  • Child/Family Health Plus
  • Essential Plan
  • HMO
  • Medicaid Managed Care

Oxford Health Plans

  • Freedom
  • Liberty


  • Special Needs


  • Compass (Exchange)
  • Empire Plan
  • HMO
  • Medicaid (Community Plan)
  • Medicare Managed Care
  • POS
  • PPO


  • Medicare Managed Care
  • SelectHealth
  • Special Needs


  • Medicaid Managed Care
  • Medicare Managed Care

*Please contact the provider’s office directly to verify that your particular insurance is accepted.

Credentials & Experience

Education & Training

  • EdD, Movement Science (Motor Control), Teachers College, Columbia University
  • BOT, Occupational Therapy , Pt. Deendayal Upadhyaya National Institute for Persons With Physical Disabilities
  • MA, Occupational therapy (developmental disabilities), New York University
  • Fellowship: 2001 John Hopkins University School of Medicine

Honors & Awards

  • Scientific Advisory Committee for the Clinical Research Resource, Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (2019-present)
  • Executive Committee member, Health Professions Task Force of the International Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders Society (2016- present)
  • Fellow, American Occupational Therapy Association (December 2012-present)
  • Keynote Speaker, Huntington Study Group Clinical Research Symposium (November 2012)
  • Keynote Speaker, European GaitRITE Meeting (September 2009)
  • Invited Key Speaker, European Huntington's Disease Network Physiotherapy Working Group (February 2009)
  • Associate Editor, American Journal of Occupational Therapy (2008-2015)
  • Invited Speaker, Parkinson's Disease Foundation 50th Anniversary Educational Symposium (October 2007)


Dr. Rao's research is in the area of Aging and Degenerative Disorders and is centered around three themes:

  • Early detection of sensorimotor impairments and functional limitations
  • Examine mechanisms underlying sensorimotor impairments
  • Design and test novel exercise interventions


1. Collaborative Research: Aging in place through enhanced mobility and connectedness: An integrated robot and wearable sensor approach.
=Granting Agency: National Science Foundation (Smart and Connected Health)
Dates: 01/15/19 - 12/31/23
Effort: 10%
Role: Principal Investigator

2. Growth and development of striatal-cerebellum circuitry in subjects at risk for Huntington's Disease
Granting Agency: National Institute of Health (NINDS)
Dates: 02/25/2021 - 08/31/24
Effort: 20%
Role: Site Principal Investigator

3. Study in Parkinson's Disease of Exercise (SPARX 3)
Granting Agency: National Institute of Health (NINDS)
Effort: 10%
Role: Site Principal Investigator

4. Center of Excellence in Alzheimer's Disease
Granting Agency: New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
Dates: 07/01/2022- 06/30/2026
Effort: 5%
Role: Co-Investigator

Selected Publications

Original Peer Reviewed Research Publications

  1. Rao AK and Louis ED. Ataxic gait in Essential Tremor: A disease-associated figure? Tremor and Other Hyperkinetic Movements. 2019. In Press.
  2. Rao AK. Wearable sensor technology to measure physical activity (PA) in the elderly. Current Geriatrics Reports. 2019. In Press. 10.1007/s13670-019-0275-3.
  3. Young SD, Montes J, Kramer SS, Podwika B, Rao AK, DeVivo DC. Perceived fatigue in spinal muscular atrophy: A pilot study. Journal of Neuromuscular Diseases. 2019. In Press.
  4. Osoba MY, Rao AK, Agrawal SK, Lalwani AK. Balance and gait in the elderly: A contemporary review. Laryngoscope Investigative Otolaryngology. 2019. In Press.
  5. Mamuyac EM, Zanotto D, Rao AK, Agrawal SK, Lalwani AK. Gait disturbance in the elderly. Recent Advances in Otolaryngology- Head and Neck Surgery. 2019. In Press
  6. Fritz NE, Rao AK*, Kegelmeyer D, Kloos A, Busse M, Hartel L, Carrier J, Quinn L. Physical Therapy and Exercise Interventions in Huntington's Disease: A Mixed Methods Systematic Review. J Huntingtons Dis. 2017;6(3):217-235. doi: 10.3233/JHD-170260. PubMed PMID: 28968244.
  7. Moskowitz CB, Rao AK.* Making a measurable difference in advanced Huntington disease care. Handb Clin Neurol. 2017;144:183-196. doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-801893-4.00016-X. PubMed PMID: 28947117.
  8. Kim GJ, Hinojosa J, Rao AK, Batavia M, O'Dell MW. Randomized Trial on the Effects of Attentional Focus on Motor Training of the Upper Extremity Using Robotics with Individuals after Chronic Stroke. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 2017. 98(10); 1924-1931.
  9. Busse M, Carrier J, Fritz N, Harden J, Hartel L, Kegelmeyer D, Kloos A, Quinn L, Rao AK.^ Physical Therapy and exercise interventions in Huntington's disease: A mixed methods systematic review protocol. JBI Database of Systematic Reviews and Implementation Reports. 2017. 15(7);1783-1799.
  10. Abbruzzese LD, Salazar R, Aubuchon M, Rao AK.^ Temporal and spatial gait parameters in children with Cri Du Chat Syndrome under single and dual task conditions. Gait and Posture. 2016. 50:47-52. doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2016.08.006. PMID: 27569649.
  11. Blumenschine M, Montes J, Rao AK^, Engelstad K, De Vivo DC. Analysis of gait disturbance in Glut 1 deficiency syndrome. Journal of Child Neurology. 2016; 31(13): 1483-1788.
  12. Louis ED, Wise A, Alcalay RN, Rao AK, Factor-Litvak P. Essential Tremor-Parkinson's Disease: A Double Whammy. Journal of the Neurological Sciences. 2016. Jul 15;366:47-51. doi: 10.1016/j.jns.2016.04.040. PubMed PMID: 27288775.
  13. Mirelman A, Bernad-Elazari H, Thaler A, Giladi-Yaakobi E, Gurevich T, Gana-Weisz M, Saunders-Pullman R, Bressman SB, Marder KS, Alcalay RN, Rao AK, Berg D, Brockmann K, Aasly J, Waro B, Tolosa E, Vilas D, Pont C, Orr-Urtreger A, Hausdorff JM, Giladi N. Arm swing as a potential new prodromal marker of Parkinson's disease. Movement Disorders. 2016: 31(10): 1527-1534.
  14. Rao, AK and Louis, ED. Timing Control of Gait: A Study of Essential Tremor Patients vs. Age-matched Controls. Cerebellum and Ataxias. 2016 Mar 2;3:5. doi:10.1186/s40673-016-0043-5. eCollection 2016. PubMed PMID: 26937284; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4774137.
  15. Porciuncula F, Rao AK, McIsaac T. Aging-related decrements during specific phases of the dual-task Timed Up-and-Go test. Aging Clinical and Experimental Research. 2016 Feb;28(1):121-30. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 25995166.
  16. Louis ED and Rao AK. Functional Aspects of Gait in Essential Tremor: A Comparison with Age-Matched Parkinson's Disease Cases, Dystonia Cases, and Controls. Tremor and Other Hyperkinetic Movements. 2015 May 27;5. pii: tre-5-308. doi: 10.7916/D8B27T7J. PubMed PMID: 26056611; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4454999.
  17. Louis ED and Rao AK. Tandem Gait Performance in Essential Tremor Patients Correlates with Cognitive Function. Cerebellum and Ataxias. 2015 Jan 10;1:19. doi: 10.1186/s40673-014-0019-2. PMID: 26331043. PMCID: PMC4552146.
  18. Rao AK, Marder KS, Uddin J, Rakitin BC. Variability in interval production is due to timing dependent deficits in Huntington's disease. Movement Disorders. 2014. 29(12): 1516-1522. PMID: 25154339 [PubMed - in process] PMCID: PMC4188696.
  19. Abbruzzese LD, Rao AK, Bellows R, Figueroa K, Levy J, Lim E, Puccio. Effects of manual task complexity on gait parameters in school-aged children and adults. Gait and Posture. 2014. 20(4): 658-663. PMID: 25168911.
  20. Rao AK, Gilman A, Louis ED. Balance Confidence and Falls in Non-Demented Essential Tremor Patients: The Role of Cognition. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 2014. 95(10): 1832-1837. PMID: 24769121 [PubMed - in process] PMCID: PMC4182140
  21. Rao AK. Occupational Therapy in Chronic Progressive Disorders: Enhancing Function and Modifying Disease. American Journal of Occupational Therapy. 2014;68(3):251-253. PMID: 24797187.
  22. Montes J, Dunaway S, Ewing Garber C, Sproule D, Chiriboga C, De Vivo DC, Rao AK. The evaluation of leg muscle function and fatigue during walking in spinal muscular atrophy. Muscle and Nerve. 2014. 50(1): 34-39. PMID: 24122959.
  23. Rao AK, Chiu A, Bursley B, Sulofsky J, Jezequel J. Systematic Review of the effects of exercise on activities of daily living in people with Alzheimer's disease. American Journal of Occupational Therapy. 2014. 68(1): 50-56. PMID: 24367955.
  24. Louis ED, Galecki M, Rao AK. Four essential tremor cases with moderately impaired gait: how impaired can gait be in this disease? Tremor Other Hyperkinet Mov 2013; 3: PMID: 24255798 PMCID: PMC3822047
  25. Montes J, Blumenschine M, Dunaway S, Alter AS, Engelstad K, Rao AK^, Chiriboga C, Sproule D, DeVivo DC. Weakness and fatigue in diverse neuromuscular disorders. Journal of Child Neurology. 2013. 28(10) 1277-1283. PMID: 23847297.
  26. Rao AK, Uddin J, Gillman A, Louis ED. Cognitive motor interference during dual-task gait in Essential Tremor. Gait and Posture. 2013. 38: 403-409. PMID: 23369662 PMCID: PMC3679258.
  27. Rao AK. Measuring function in chronic progressive disorders. American Journal of Occupational Therapy. 2013. 67(5): 499-501. PMID: 23968786.
  28. Montes J, McIsaac TL, Dunaway S, Kamil-Rosenberg S, Sproule D, Garber CE, De Vivo DC, Rao AK^. Falls and spinal muscular atrophy (SMA): exploring cause and prevention. Muscle and Nerve. 2013. 47(1): 118-23. PMID: 23042039.
  29. Gutman SA, Raphael-Greenfield EI, & Rao AK. Increasing Social Skill Use in Adolescents with High Functioning Autism: A 9-Participant Single Subject Design. Journal of Occupational Therapy, Schools, & Early Intervention. 2012. 5(3-4), 209-220. PMID: 22917119.
  30. Rao AK. Occupational therapy in neurological disorders: Looking ahead to the American Occupational Therapy Association's Centennial Vision. American Journal of Occupational Therapy. 2012, 66(6): e119-30. PMID: 23106997 PMCID: PMC3665413
  31. Quinn L, Busse ME and members of the European Huntington's Disease Network Physiotherapy working Group. Development of physiotherapy guidance and treatment-based classifications for people with Huntington's disease. Neurodegenerative Disease Management. 2012, 2(1): 11-19.
  32. Quinn L, Busse ME, Heemskerk A-W, Ekwall C, Fritz NE, Kegelmeyer D, Kloos A, Rao AK, Broad M, Dawes H, Hopkins C, Jones U, Khalil H, Meek C, Owen J, Sands, R ,Watters S, Sackley C, Zinzi P. Physiotherapy in Huntington's Disease: Guidance for practice. Hygeia Public Health. 2012, 47(1): 15-22
  33. Gutman SA, Raphael-Greenfield EI, & Rao AK. Effect of a motor-based role-play intervention on the social behaviors of adolescents with high-functioning autism: Multiple-baseline single-subject design. American Journal of Occupational Therapy. 2012. 66, 529-537. PMID: 22917119.
  34. Louis ED, Rao AK, Gerbin M. Functional correlates of gait and balance difficulty in essential tremor: Balance confidence, near misses and falls. Gait and Posture. 2012 Jan;35(1):43-7. PMID: 21930384 PMCID: PMC3244510
  35. Rao AK, Mazzoni PM, Wasserman P and Marder KS. Longitudinal Change in Gait and Motor Function in Pre-manifest Huntington's Disease. PLoS Curr. 2011 Oct 4;3:RRN1268. PMID: 22008726 PMCID: PMC3193287
  36. Rao, A.K. Gillman, A, and Louis, E.D. Quantitative gait analysis in essential tremor reveals impairments that are maintained into advanced age. Gait and Posture. 2011, 34: 65-70. PMID: 21478017 PMCID: PMC3575132.
  37. Louis, E.D. and Rao, A.K. Reply: Tandem gait performance in essential tremor. Movement Disorders. 2011, 26(5): 933. PMID: 21425336.
  38. Rao, A.K., Marder, K.S. and Gordon, A.M Coordination of fingertip forces during precision grip in premanifest Huntington's disease. Movement Disorders. 2011, 26(5): 862-869. PMID: 21394785 PMCID: PMC3116202.
  39. Montes, J., Dunaway, S., Montgomery, M.J., Sproule, D., Kaufmann, P., De Vivo, D.C., and Rao, A.K. Fatigue Leads to Gait Changes in Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Muscle Nerve. 2011;43(4):485-8. PMID: 21404286.
  40. Rao, A.K. Enabling functional independence in Parkinson's disease: Update on Occupational therapy intervention. Movement Disorders. 2010, 25(Supp.1): 146-151. PMID: 20187253.
  41. Louis, E.D., Rios, E. and Rao, A.K. Tandem Gait Performance in Essential Tremor: Clinical Correlates and Association with Midline Tremors. Movement Disorders, 2010, 25(11): 1633-1638. PMID: 20629168 PMCID: PMC2987716.
  42. Rao, A.K., Muratori, L., Louis, E.D., Moskowitz, C.B. and Marder, K.S. Clinical measurement of mobility and balance impairments in Huntington's disease: Validity and responsiveness. Gait & Posture: 2009, 29: 433-436. PMID: 19111470.
  43. Rao, A.K., Louis, E.D. and Marder, K.S. Clinical assessment of mobility and balance impairments in pre-symptomatic Huntington's disease. Gait and Posture: 2009, 30: 391-393. PMID: 19647432.
  44. Rao, A.K., Muratori, L., Louis, E.D., Moskowitz, C.B. and Marder, K.S. Spectrum of gait impairments in Presymptomatic and symptomatic Huntington's disease. Movement Disorders, 2008, Vol 23 (8): pp. 1100-1107. PMID: 18412252
  45. Rao, A.K. Role of occupational therapy movement disorders of the basal ganglia. Invited paper. Physical Disabilities Special Interest Section Quarterly. 2008, 31(3), 1-4.
  46. Rao, A.K., Quinn, L. and Marder, K. Test-retest reliability of gait outcome measures in Huntington's disease. Movement Disorders, 2005, 20 (8), 1033-1037. PMID: 15838854.
  47. Quinn, L. and Rao, A.K.. Physical Therapy and Huntington's disease: current perspectives and case report. Neurology Report: 2002, 26 (3), 145-153.
  48. Rao, A.K. and Gordon, A.M. Contribution of tactile information to accuracy in pointing. Experimental Brain Research, 2001, 138: 438-445. PMID: 11465741
  49. Flanagan JR and Rao AK. Trajectory adaptation to a non-linear visuomotor transformation: evidence for motion planning in visually perceived space. Journal of Neurophysiology, 1995. 74(5): 2174-2178. PMID: 8592205

Reviews, Chapters, Monographs, Editorials

  1. Rao AK and Shah H. Gait failure. In R. Marshall and S. Mayer (Eds.). On Call Neurology. 4th Edition. 2017. In Press. Elsevier. St. Louis, MO.
  2. Rao, A.K. Gait Disorders. In Merritt's Neurology. Thirteenth Edition. ED Louis, S Mayer & L Rowland (Eds.). Philadelphia, PA. Volters-Kluwer. 2016, pp. 107-117.
  3. Rao AK Approaches to motor control dysfunction in stroke: An evidence based review. In G. Gillen (Ed.), Stroke Rehabilitation: A function-based approach. Fourth Edition. Elsevier. St. Louis, MO. 2015, pp. 348-359.
  4. Rao, A.K. Approaches to motor control dysfunction: Updated review of the evidence. In Stroke Rehabilitation, G. Gillen (Ed). St. Louis, MO: Mosby. 2010: 117-155.
  5. Quinn, L., Busse, M., Broad, M., Dawes, H., Ekwall, C., Fritz, N., Heemskerk, A-W, Hopkins, C., Jones, U., Kegelmeyer, D., Khalil, H., Kloos, A., Meek, C., Owen, J., Rao, A.K., Sands, R. and Waters, R. Physiotherapy Guidance Document. 2009, European Huntington's Disease Network. Ulm, Germany.
  6. Rao, A.K. Cognition and Motor Skills. In A. Henderson & C. Pehosky (Eds.). Hand Function in the Child: Foundations for remediation. St. Louis: MO. Mosby-Elsevier. 2005: 101-113.
  7. Shadmehr R, Donchin O, Hwang EJ, Hemminger SE, and Rao A.K. Learning dynamics of reaching. In: Motor Cortex in Voluntary Movements. A. Riehle and E. Vaadia (editors), 2006, CRC Press, pp. 297-328
  8. Rao, A.K. Approaches to motor control dysfunction: An evidence-based review. In Stroke Rehabilitation, G. Gillen and A. Burkhardt (Eds). St. Louis, MO: Mosby. 2004