Ashwini Rao, OTR, EdD

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Post Doctoral Training:

Computational Motor Control, Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine

Movement Sciences, Columbia University.

Other professional activities include:

1) Associate Editor: American Journal of Occupational Therapy (2008-2015)

2) Executive Committee Member: Health Professions Task Force in the International Movement Disorders Society

3) Grant Reviewer for National Science Foundation

4) Study Section Member: Irving Institute of Clinical and Translational Research, Columbia University

5) Manuscript Reviewer • Movement Disorders • Somatosensory and Motor Research • Gait and Posture • Clinical Practice • Clinical Rehabilitation • Journal of Huntington’s Disease • Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology • Journal of Hand Therapy • Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry • Neurodegenerative Disease Management • Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair • Neurology • Tremor and Other Hyperkinetic Movements

Clinical interests include occupational therapy, neurological rehabilitation, and movement disorders.

Academic Appointments

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

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

  1. Fellow, American Occupational Therapy Association (December 2012-present)
  2. Keynote Speaker, Huntington Study Group, Clinical Research Symposium (November 2012)
  3. Keynote Speaker, European Gaitrite Meeting (September 2009)
  4. Invited Key Speaker, European Huntington’s Disease Network, Physiotherapy working group (February 2009)
  5. Associate Editor, American Journal of Occupational Therapy (2008-2015)
  6. Invited speaker, Parkinson’s Disease Foundation 50th Anniversary Educational Symposium (October 2007)


Research Interests

Sensori-motor impairments and functional limitations in movement disorders

Mechanisms underlying motor impairments and functional limitations

Specific projects:

1) Predictors of energy expenditure during physical activity in Huntington disease

2) Enhancing mobility in community living elderly

3) Motor and functional limitations in Huntington disease: Mechanisms and Outcome Measures

4) Measurement of physical activity in Huntington disease

5) Development of clinical practice guidelines on exercise and physical therapy interventions in Huntington disease



1) Dates: 01/15/19 - 12/31/23

Grant Title: 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)

Amount: 10% Salary Support- Total support $272,000

Role: Principal Investigator

2) Dates: 07/01/16- 06/30/20

Grant Title: Center of Excellence in Alzheimer’s Disease

Granting Agency: New York State Department of Health

Amount: 5% salary support

Role: Co-Investigator (PI: Lawrence Honig)

3) Dates: 7/1/2018-6/30/2019

Grant Title: ENROLL-HD- A prospective registry study in a global Huntington’s disease cohort

Granting Agency: CHDI Foundation

Amount: 10% effort

Role: Co-Investigator (Site PI: Karen Marder)

4) Dates: 09/01/17- 05/31/18

Grant Title: Factors underlying higher energy expenditure and weight loss in Huntington’s disease.

Granting Agency: National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NIH) Pilot Award

Amount: $40,000 (10% salary support)

Role: Principal Investigator


1) Dates: 09/01/17- 05/31/18

Grant Title: Factors underlying higher energy expenditure and weight loss in Huntington’s disease.

Granting Agency: National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NIH) Pilot Award

Amount: $40,000 (10% salary support)

Role: Principal Investigator

2) Dates: 08/01/10 – 7/31/15

Grant Title: Motor impairments in Huntington’s disease: mechanisms and outcome measures.

Granting Agency: National Institute of Health (NICHD-NCMRR)

Amount: $501,235

Role: Principal Investigator

3) Dates: 6/1/08 – 7/31/15

Grant Title: Pathogenesis of Essential Tremor: Cerebellar Metabolism

Granting Agency: National Institute of Health

Amount: 10% salary support

Role: Co-Investigator (PI: Elan Louis)

4) Dates: 07/01/12 – 06/30/14

Grant Title: Gait and motor symptoms in healthy asymptomatic relatives of patients with PD carriers of mutations in the LRRK2 gene

Granting Agency: Michael J. Fox Foundation

Role: Co-Investigator (PI, Karen Marder)

5) 07/01/05- 06/30/07

Grant Title: Is motor variability a reliable biomarker in pre-symptomatic Huntington’s disease?

Granting Agency: Huntington’s Disease Society of America

Amount: $100,000

Role: Principal Investigator 6)

Dates: 07/01/14- 06/30/18

Grant Title: A Phase 2, Dose-Finding, Randomized, Parallel-Group, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study, Evaluating the Safety and Efficacy of Pridopidine 67.5 mg, 90 mg, and 112.5 mg Twice-Daily versus Placebo for Symptomatic Treatment in Patients with Huntington’s Disease.

Granting Agency: Teva Pharmaceutical Products, Inc

Amount: $23,000 per patient

Role: Co-Investigator (PI: Karen Marder)

7) Dates: 12/01/15-11/30/18

Grant Title: A Phase 2, multi-center, randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study in subjects with late prodromal and early manifest Huntington’s disease (HD) to assess the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics, and efficacy of VX15/2503

Granting Agency: Vaccinex, Inc.

Role: Co-Investigator (PI, Karen Marder)

8) Dates: 01/01/18- 12/31/20

Grant Title: Adaptive design, controlled study assessing resting state neuronal networks in pre-manifest/manifest HD gene expansion carriers using [18F] Fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG PET) and arterial spin label magnetic resonance imaging (ASL MRI). Granting Agency: Cure Huntington’s Disease Initiative

Amount: 10% salary support

Role: Co-Investigator (PI: Karen Marder)

9) Dates: 11/01/17-10/31/18

Grant Title: A study to identify kinematic and force measures capturing impairment in musician’s dystonia among string players and improvement with retraining therapy

Granting Agency: Dystonia Medical Research Foundation Amount: 5% Effort

Role: Mentor /Co-Investigator (PI, Christine Kim)

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