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Sara Piva is a professor in the Department of Physical Therapy and the Clinical and Translational Science Institute. She is also the founding director of the Physical Therapy Clinical and Translational Research Center. Her primary area of research expertise is related to rehabilitation of individuals with arthritis that affects the lower extremities and spine. Her research is focused on understanding the contributors to functional limitations in musculoskeletal diseases and developing exercise programs to affect these contributors and improve physical function in these patients.

Piva has a very dynamic research agenda and has received funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) and several foundations and professional associations. She served as the principal investigator or co-investigator in over 20 clinical research projects and her research has been disseminated in more than 90 peer-reviewed publications in journals of high impact in rehabilitation. She is also active in teaching and has mentored over 40 trainees on research projects. 


Department of Physical Therapy


Doctor of Philosophy in Rehabilitation Science
Doctor of Physical Therapy Residential and Hybrid Program
Doctor of Physical Therapy/Doctor of Philosophy in Bioengineering

Representative Publications

Research Interests

  • Contributors to functional limitations in musculoskeletal diseases
  • Exercise programs to improve physical function in musculoskeletal diseases
  • Physical activity promotion in arthritis
  • Psychometric properties of tests and measures used in musculoskeletal physical therapy.