Ashwini Rao, OTR, EdD

Physical Therapy
More specialties
Profile Headshot


Dr. Rao completed his training in Occupational Therapy from the National Institute for Persons with Physical Disabilities in New Delhi, India. 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.

Areas of Expertise / Conditions Treated

  • Ataxia
  • Dementia
  • Huntington's Disease (HD)
  • Neurological Rehabilitation
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Parkinson's Disease
  • Tremors

Academic Appointments

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


  • Male

Schedule an Appointment

Connect Patient Portal

For existing patients, login to make an appointment, view documentation or contact your care provider.

Connect Sign In

Insurance Accepted

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 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


  • Special Needs


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


  • 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: 20%
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. Improving diversity recruitment and retention in SPARX3 clinical trial
Granting Agency: American Parkinson's Disease Association
Dates: 02/01/2023 - 02/28/2024
Effort: 5%
Role: Site Principal Investigator

5. Movement Intervention for Neurodegenerative Disease (MND): Dance for Huntington's Disease (DfHD)

Granting Agency: Huntington's Disease for Society of America

Dates: 02/01/2023 - 01/31/2024

Effort: 5%

Role: Mentor

6. 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

  • Early Detection of Motor Markers
    • Gait and balance impairments in Huntington disease

a) Rao, A.K., Muratori, L., Lous, 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

b) 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.

c) 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.

d) 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

  • Aging Related decrements in gait, balance and Physical activity

a) 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

b) Osoba MY, Rao AK, Agrawal SK, Lalwani AK. Balance and gait in the elderly: A contemporary review. Laryngoscope Investig Otolaryngol. 2019 Feb 4;4(1):143-153. doi:10.1002/lio2.252. eCollection 2019 Feb. Review. PubMed PMID: 30828632; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6383322.

c) Rao AK. Wearable sensor technology to measure physical activity (PA) in the elderly. Current Geriatrics Reports. 2019. 8: 55.

d) Zhang H, Yin Y, Chen Z, Zhang Y, Rao AK, Guo Y, Zanotto D. Wearable Biofeedback System to Induce Desired Walking Speed in Overground Gait Training. Sensors. 2020. Jul 18; 20(14): 4002.doi: 10.3390/s2014402. PMID: 32708450. PMCID: PMC7412458

e) Zhao, Q., Chen, Z. Landis, C., Lytle, A., Rao, A.K., Zanotto, D., & Guo, Y. Gait monitoring for older adults during guided walking: An integrated assistive robot and wearable sensor approach. Wearable Technologies. 2022;3, E28. dio:10.1017/wtc.2022.23

  • Gait and balance impairments in Essential Tremor and Parkinson's disease

a) Rao AK and Louis ED. Ataxic gait in Essential Tremor: A disease-associated figure? Tremor and Other Hyperkinetic Movements. 2019. 2019;9. doi: 10.7916/d8-28jq-8t52. eCollection 2019. Review. PubMed PMID: 31413894; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6691745.

b) 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.

c) 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.

d) 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.

  • Mechanisms Underlying Motor Impairments
    • Sensorimotor impairments in Huntington Disease

a) 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.

b) 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. PMCID: PMC4188696.

c) Porciuncula F, Wasserman P, Marder KS, Rao AK. Quantifying postural control in premanifest and manifest Huntington's Disease using wearable sensors. Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair. 2020. Vol. 34(9) 771-783. doi: 10.1177/1545968320939560. PMID: 32672492

  • Design and test exercise interventions in Huntington Disease

a) Fritz N, Kegelmeyer D, Rao AK, Quinn L, Nance M, Kloos A. Coordination of Care Among Physical Therapists Among Physical Therapists and Neurologists in Huntington's Disease. Neurology Clinical Practice. 2022. In Press.

b) Quinn L, Kegelmeyer D, Kloos A, Rao AK, Busse M, Fritz NE. Clinical recommendations to guide physical therapy practice for Huntington disease. Neurology. 2020 Feb 4;94(5):217-228. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000008887. Epub PMC7080285.

c) 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.

d) 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.

e) Rao AK. Measuring function in chronic progressive disorders. American Journal of Occupational Therapy. 2013. 67(5): 499-501. PMID: 23968786.

Chapters, Monographs and Editorials

a) Rao, A.K. Gait Disorders. In Merritt's Neurology. Fourteenth Edition. ED Louis, S Mayer & JM Noble (Eds.). Philadelphia, PA. Volters-Kluwer. 2022, pp. 122-131.

b) Rao AK and Shah H. Gait Failure. In R. Marshall and S. Mayer (Eds.). On Call Neurology. 4th Edition. 2021. In Press. Elsevier. St. Louis, MO. Pp. 161-172.

c) Rao AK Approaches to motor control dysfunction in stroke: An evidence-based review. In G. Gillen (Ed.), Stroke Rehabilitation: A function-based approach. Fifth Edition. Elsevier. St. Louis, MO. 2021, pp. 332-348.

For a complete list of publications, please visit