Smita Rao, PT, Ph.D., is a physical therapist, researcher and author. She is currently an Associate Professor of Physical Therapy at NYU and a Research Associate Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at NYU School of Medicine. Smita is one of the founding faculty of NYU Steinhardt's Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Rehabilitation Sciences, and also co-directs the Center for Health and Rehabilitation Research.
Smita earned a Bachelor of Science (Physiotherapy) and Master of Science (Orthopedic Physiotherapy) at the University of Mumbai, India. She obtained her academic doctorate at the University of Iowa in Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science. Her research agenda focuses on improving physical therapy and rehabilitation care in individuals with musculoskeletal conditions such as diabetes and osteoarthritis.
Her dissertation examined foot and ankle changes in patients with diabetes. She completed a two-year post-doctoral fellowship funded by the Arthritis Foundation, with Drs Deborah Nawoczenski, PT, Ph.D. and Judith Baumhauer, MD. At NYU, her project examining the effects of soft tissue mobilization in individuals with foot pain was funded by the Rheumatology Research Foundation. Current projects include a collaboration with colleagues Dr. Patricia Kluding from Department of Physical Therapy at The University of Kansas Medical Center and Dr. Ryan Brown from the Department of Radiology at NYU Langone Health. In this federally funded study, Dr. Rao and her colleagues will examine the effects of exercise in individuals with diabetes and neuropathy.