Main Content:

Research Interests:

  • Exercise programs to improve physical function in arthritis
  • Physical activity promotion in arthritis

Ongoing Projects:

  • A Comparison of Treatment Methods for Patients Following Total Knee Replacement
  • Effect of Three Regional Anesthetics on Rehabilitation Outcome for Veterans 1-2 Days after Knee or Hip Replacement
  • Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) to reverse muscle atrophy in patients with RA
  • A Comparison of Non-Surgical Treatment Methods for Patients with Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

Peer-Reviewed Publications


Sara Piva is an associate professor in the Department of Physical Therapy and the Clinical and Translational Science Institute. She is also the founding co-director of the Physical Therapy Clinical and Translational Research Center. Her primary area of research expertise is related to rehabilitation of individuals following total knee arthroplasty. She also leads research on the use of neuromuscular electrical stimulation to reverse muscle atrophy in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and investigates contractile and non-contractile functions of skeletal muscle, including muscle structure and physiology. Piva has a very dynamic research agenda and has received funding from the National Institutes of Health, Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), and several foundations and professional associations. She has more than 60 peer-reviewed publications in journals of high impact in rehabilitation. She is also active in teaching and has mentored over 20 trainees on research projects. She currently serves on the review boards for peer-reviewed scientific journals and national funding agencies.  


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