Pioneering Rehabilitation

David Putrino, Ph.D., P.T.

Director, Telemedicine and Virtual Rehabilitation

Assistant Professor
Department of Rehabilitation Medicine
Weill Cornell Medicine 


(914) 368-3183

Research Focus

Research Focus

Our major research focus is to design, develop, and deploy a comprehensive telemedicine service for Burke. Telemedicine is an emerging approach to healthcare that allows therapists, assisted by innovative technology, to deliver engaging and high-intensity therapy in the home at low cost to the patient. This has the potential to significantly impact the quality-of-life of patients who have been previously unable to readily access outpatient services. We use state-of-the-art motion capture technology that allows therapists to monitor the quality and quantity of rehabilitation that is being performed at home and in the clinic in unprecedented detail. Using this information allows us to engage in novel research to explore the mechanisms of recovery in a variety of conditions, and design accurate methods for assessing disease severity, progression and recovery that have not been previously available to patients anywhere. This is an exciting new field of research, but at all times, our main goal remains the same: to provide our patients with the highest standard of care possible.


I am a Physical Therapist with a Ph.D. in Neuroscience. I graduated as a Physical Therapist from Curtin University of Technology with First Class Honors in 2004, and was awarded a Ph.D. from the University of Western Australia in 2008 for my work studying the neural control of reaching under the supervision of Soumya Ghosh. Clinically, I have worked with patients in hospitals and private practices in the US, UK, and Australia. As a neuroscientist, I have held academic positions studying computational neuroscience at Harvard Medical School and MIT with Emery Brown, and performing motor control and brain machine interface research at NYU with Esther Gardner and Bijan Pesaran. 

I consider teaching to be an essential part of any faculty position. In Perth, Western Australia, I have held teaching faculty positions at Curtin University of Technology and Edith Cowan University, and was responsible for teaching neuroanatomy and neuropathology to hundreds of students over several years, as well as assisting in course development. In New York, I served for two academic semesters as a teaching assistant for Neuroanatomy classes at the NYU School of Medicine, where I taught neuroanatomy and clinical neuroscience to first year medical students and neuroscience graduate students.  

However, I also believe that scientists have a responsibility to assist in the education of their immediate community in order to engage the public in science and technology research and explain why this is important on a fundamental level. As such, I am a co-founder of StreetSmart Science – a not-for-profit organization that works to connect scientist-mentors with local high schools in order to encourage science enrichment in the city of New York. We are currently working with 3 inner-city high schools in Harlem and the Bronx.

I am also a volunteer at Not Impossible Labs, where I am a member of the “Project Daniel” and “BrainWriter” teams. Also on behalf of Not Impossible, I’m currently involved in designing the International Digital Revolution Exhibit for the BrainWriter's debut at the Barbican Museum of London in July 2014.


Citations via PubMed

Journal Articles

Goldfine AM, Dehbandi B, Kennedy JM, Sabot B, Semper C, Putrino D (2016). Quantifying Poststroke Apathy With Actimeters J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci 2016 Feb;:appineuropsych15090235 PMID: 26900735

Putrino D (2014). Telerehabilitation and emerging virtual reality approaches to stroke rehabilitation Curr. Opin. Neurol. 2014 Dec;27(6):631-6 PMID: 25333603

Putrino D, Wong YT, Weiss A, Pesaran B (2014) A training platform for many-dimensional prosthetic devices using a virtual reality environment. J Neurosci Methods pii: S0165-0270(14)00098-3. [Epub ahead of print]

Johnson L, Putrino D, James I, Rodrigues J, Stell R, Thickbroom G and Mastaglia FL (2013) The effects of a supervised Pilates training program on balance in Parkinson’s disease. Advances in Parkinson’s Disease 2 (2013) 58-61.

Wong YT, Putrino D, Weiss A, Pesaran B (2013) Utilizing movement synergies to improve decoding performance for a Brain Machine Interface. Conf Proc IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc 2013:289-92. 

Putrino D, Wong YT, Vigeral M, Pesaran B (2012) Development of a closed-loop feedback system for real-time control of a high-dimensional Brain Machine Interface. Conf Proc IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 2012: 4567-70.

Wong YT, Vigeral M, Putrino D, Pfau D, Merel J, Paninski L, Pesaran B (2012) Decoding arm and hand movements across layers of the macaque frontal cortices. Conf Proc IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 2012: 1757-60.

Putrino D, Chen Z, Ghosh S and Brown EN (2012) Motor cortical networks for skilled movements have dynamic properties that are related to accurate reaching. Neural Plasticity.

Gardner EP, Putrino D, Chen J (2011) Spike trains in posterior parietal and premotor cortex encode trained and natural grasping behaviors. BMC Neuroscience 12: P36.

Kim S, Putrino D, Ghosh S and Brown EN (2011) A Granger causality measure for point process models of ensemble neural spiking activity. PLoS Computational Biology 7: 1-13.

Putrino D, Brown EN, Mastaglia FL and Ghosh S (2010) Differential involvement of excitatory and inhibitory neurons of cat motor cortex in coincident spike activity related to behavioral context. The Journal of Neuroscience 30: 8048-56.    

Putrino D, Mastaglia FL and Ghosh S (2010) Neural integration of reaching and posture: interhemispheric spike correlations in cat motor cortex. Experimental Brain Research 202: 765-77.

Chen Z, Putrino D, Ghosh S, Barbieri R, and Brown EN (2010) Statistical inference for assessing functional connectivity of neuronal ensembles with sparse spiking data. IEEE: Transactions of Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering 19: 121-35.

Chen Z, Putrino D, Ba DE, Ghosh S, Barbieri R, and Brown EN (2009) A regularized point process generalized linear model for assessing the functional connectivity in the cat motor cortex. Conf Proc IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 2009: 5006-9.

Ghosh S, Putrino D, Burro B and Ring A (2009) Patterns of spatio-temporal correlations in the neural activity of the cat motor cortex during trained forelimb movements. Somatosensory and Motor Research 26: 31-49.

Ghosh S, Putrino D, Mastaglia FL (2009) Neural networks involved in the control of skilled movement correlated spike activity in the primary motor area of the cerebral cortex. Journal of Clinical Neuroscience 16: 1544.


Richard Novitch, Cory Semper, David Putrino (2015) A novel method to monitor patients with COPD using the VitalConnect Patch Stanford Medicine X Sept 23-27 2015, Stanford, Los Angeles, CA.

Mar Cortes, Dylan Edwards, David Putrino (2015) Anodal tDCS decreases total EEG power at rest and alters brain signaling during fatigue in high performance athletes NYC Neuromodulation Conference Jan 9-11 2015, City College of New York, New York, NY.

David Putrino, Helma Zanders, Avrielle Rykman, Peter Lee, Owais Naeem, Luis Disla, Tanjin Panna, Dylan Edwards (2015) Use of the GesAircraft video game for upper limb rehabilitation in stroke: A pilot study American Society for Neurorehabilitation Annual Meeting Oct 15-16 2015, Chicago, IL.

Recent Conference Proceedings

Putrino D, Panna T, Naeem O, Disla L, Edwards DJ (2013) Pairing non-invasive brain stimulation and online rehabilitation: Online gaming engines as platforms for state-of-the-art neuro-rehabilitation. NYC Neuromodulation Conference, Nov. 22-23, New York, NY.

Putrino D, Wong Y, Seideman J, Weiss A, Pesaran B (2013) Using virtual reality environments to train high-dimensional control of a virtual upper limb prosthetic. Society for Neuroscience, 43rd Annual Meeting, Nov. 9-13, San Diego, CA.

Shewcraft RA, Pinskiy V, Tolpygo AS, Mukherjee A, Putrino D, Wong YT, Mitra PP, Pesaran B (2013) Dissecting long-range circuits in macaque cortex by registering optogenetically driven neural activity with anatomical connectivity. Society for Neuroscience, 43rd Annual Meeting, Nov. 9-13, San Diego, CA.

Putrino D, Wong YT, Weiss A, Pesaran B (2012) Development of a closed-loop feedback system for real-time control of a high-dimensional Brain Machine Interface. Society for Neuroscience, 42nd Annual Meeting, Oct. 13-17, New Orleans, LA.

Wong YT, Vigeral M, Putrino D, Pfau D, Merel J, Paninski L, Pesaran B (2012) Characterizing the performance of decoding arm and hand joint angles across layers of the macaque frontal cortices. Society for Neuroscience, 42nd Annual Meeting, Oct. 13-17, New Orleans, LA.

Putrino D, Chen J, Gardner EP (2011) Representation in motor cortex (MI) of hand actions in a bimanual prehension task. Society for Neuroscience, 41st Annual Meeting, Nov. 12-16, Washington, DC.

Chen J, Putrino D, Gardner EP (2011) Representation in somatosensory (SI) cortex of hand actions in prehension tasks. Society for Neuroscience, 41st Annual Meeting, Nov. 12-16, Washington, DC.

Putrino D, Chen Z, Ghosh S, Brown EN (2010). Alterations in neural spiking rate and spiking associations in the cat motor cortex are related to errors in reaching. Society for Neuroscience 40th Annual Meeting, Abstract 494.19, Nov. 13-17, San Diego, CA.

Ghosh S, Putrino D (2010). Differences in task related and coincident spike activity between regular and fast spiking neurons in the cat motor cortex. Society for Neuroscience 40th Annual Meeting, Abstract 732.3, Nov. 13-17, San Diego, CA.     

Putrino D, Kim S, Ghosh S, Brown EN (2010) Evaluation of excitatory and inhibitory spiking associations in the cat motor cortex related to a skilled movement task using a point process framework. Society for Neuroscience 40th Annual Meeting, Abstract 732.5, Nov. 13-17, San Diego, CA.

Chen Z, Weiner VS, Ching S, Putrino DF, Cash S, Kopell N, Purdon PL, Brown EN. (2010) Assessing neuronal interactions of assemblies during general anesthesia. IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Conference, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Citations via Google Scholar

Lab Members

Current Lab Members

Anna Smeragliulo, B.Sc

Brian T Quinn, Ph.D. 


Current Projects

Coming soon.


National Institute of Health (NIH)
Title: “Digital Game Based Therapy for Children with Cerebral Palsy”
Investigators: David Putrino, Ph.D., P.T., Principal Inestigator and Kathleen M. Friel, Ph.D., Principal Inestigator

Not Impossible Labs
Title: “Walk: Not Impossible”
Investigators: David Putrino, Ph.D., P.T., Principal Inestigator

Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Research Advisory Council
Title: “Small materials grant to develop a telemedicine app for symptom monitoring in young adults”
Investigators: David Putrino, Ph.D., P.T., Consulting Principal Inestigator


January 2015
EmTech 2015
MIT Technology Review

March 2015
Story Collider - Brain Awareness
Brooklyn, NY

April 2015
Invited research speaker
University College Irvine, Irvine, CA

April 2015
Transformational Experiences Conference
Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA

April 2015
Invited research speaker
Nathan Kline Institute, Orangeburg, NY

April 2015
Invited research speaker
SUNY Downstate, Brooklyn, NY

May 2015
The Future is Here
Smithsonian, Washington, DC

May 2015
Annual Conference
American Telemedicine Association, Los Angeles, CA,

July 2015
Invited research speaker
Spaulding Rehabilitation, Boston, MA,

September 2015
Invited research speaker
Hospital For Special Surgery, New York, NY

September 2015
European Student’s Conference
Charité: Berlin, Germany,

September 2015
Invited research speaker
Technical Research Center of Finland, Oulu, Finland,

October 2015
Invited research speaker
Children’s Hospital, Washington, DC,

October 2015
Invited research speaker
Burke Centennial Celebration
Burke Medical Research Institute, White Plains, NY,

October 2015
Invited research speaker
Stony Brook,Long Island, NY,

News and Media

June 26, 2016
The Wall Street Journal — High-Tech Tools Show Promise for Stroke Recovery 

May 20, 2015
Westchester Magazine — The 3 Coolest Things That Happened At HealthTech ’15. 

April 22, 2015
Fox 5 News — Gaming Therapy by Putrino Lab at Burke Rehabilitation Hospital [Video]  

April 16, 2015
Metro — New stroke therapy uses motion sensor video game to help rehabilitation  

April 7, 2015
abc7 New York — New Video Game Helping Stroke Patients Regain Movement  

February 23, 2015
Not Impossible Now — Neuroscientist David Putrino hopes to make physical therapy more fun and efficient for stroke patients by having them play an airplane video game.  

August 11, 2014
IEEE Spectrum — Buildng Mind-Controlled Gadgets Just Got Easier  

August 6, 2014
Runner's World — Electric Brain Stimulation

August 2, 2014
Outside — Your Body on Brain Doping

June 12, 2014
Dr. Putrino and other BMRI scientists teamed up with Red Bull Project Endurance to study the brains of elite athletes and better understand why athletes stop and slow down.  Watch a video documenting their intense week-long training program: "How Does the Brain of an Elite Athlete Work?"

Project Daniel (selected articles)

February 2014
BBC — Project Daniel  [Audio]

January 2014
Wired.co.uk — Sudanese volunteers are printing £60 limbs in six hours for local amputees
Time.com — How a TIME Article Led to the Invention of a $100 3D-Printed Artifical Limb
TheGuardian.com — How a 3D printer gave a teenage bomb victim a new arm - and a reason to live
MDTmag.com — Photos of the Day: 3D Printing Limbs for Children in War-Torn Sudan
Good Newsz Only Blog — "Not Impossible" - Non-profit "printing" new limbs for those that lost theirs in the war
Appetite For Instruction Blog — Printing Renewed Lives, One Hand at a Time

BrainWriter Project

July 3—Sept 14, 2014
Barbican Centre — Digital Revolution: An Immersive Exhibition of Art, Design, Film, Music and Video Games

July 7
CNN — The hands-on world of digital art.

July 3
TechRepublic — How the "Brainwriter" is overshadowing Google Glass and Oculus Rift at London event. 

April 2014
CNN — Naïvete is key to innovation  [Video]

The BrainWriter — A next-generation device that reads basic brain waves (EEG) to engage and disengage a computer mouse.

Stroke Research

November 2013
Sunday Night
 — My dad Don  [Video]
The West Australian — Stroke research a game-changer

Scientific Editorials

December 2013
 — #DigitalSkeptic: Big Data is Dumb If You're Smart

November 2013
 — #DigitalSkeptic: The Quantified-Self Delusion

May 2013
 — Manipulative Machines: Why We Love Robots






Web & Social Media

Web & Social Media

Website: putrinolab.org

PubMed: Putrino D[Author]

Google Scholar: citations

Twitter: twitter.com/putrinolab

Instagram: instagram.com/putrinolab

GitHub: github.com/putrinolab1


Innovative wearable health-tech devices are empowering individuals with new ways to reach and maintain optimal health and fitness. Many people are putting on an Apple Watch, Fitbit Surge or similar wearable fitness tracker by virtue of the device being both low-cost and personal. Apple is marketing the Apple Watch as “Our most personal device yet”. While many health-tech devices on the market are addressing optimal health and wellbeing, can health-tech devices provide solutions to address acute or chronic health conditions and rehabilitation?

Building innovative low-cost, personal, health-tech devices to make the world better for many is a passion for neuroscientist and physical therapist, Dr. David Putrino, Ph.D., P.T. In his lab at Burke Medical Research Institute, Dr. Putrino is exploring and piloting health-tech devices aimed to transform the quality and quantity of rehabilitation. Dr. Putrino, director of Telemedicine and Virtual Rehabilitation at Burke Medical Research Institute and an assistant professor of Rehabilitation Medicine at Weill-Cornell Medical College was recently named as one of the Westchester Business Council's "40 under 40" for 2015 in recognition of making a mark in a chosen field while under the age of 40. In addition to his positions at Burke and Cornell, Dr. Putrino is the chief medical officer and co-founder of GesTherapy, the chief technology officer of Not Impossible Labs, and collaborates with Red Bull High Performance: Red Bull's talent-sponsoring division.

One of GesTherapy's gamification products was recently featured in a clinical trial at Burke Medical Research Institute. Chronic stroke survivors pilot-tested GesAircraft, a video game for physical therapy that attempts to train skilled use of the affected arm and hand following stroke. This innovative, low-cost gaming system is a win-win for patients and therapists.

Often stroke survivors can become frustrated with post-recovery physical therapy since the act of performing therapy can be a constant reminder of what they were once able to do. Using a motion sensor to record movement from arms and hands a stroke survivor pilots an airplane through loops and obstacles. The game adapts and becomes more challenging as arm and hand movements improve. With gamification the stroke survivor's state of mind transforms from patient to video gamer instilled with the mentality of a need to get to the next level, and playing again and again to do so.

As for therapists, they receive precise recorded data of the patient's therapy session. The data recorded reduces time spent on evaluating patients and guides therapists for planning future therapy sessions. Therapists also benefit from the ability of using the device as a remote monitoring system in both a clinical rehabilitation setting as well as in patient homes. After one-on-one therapy sessions end patients are often sent home with physical therapy exercises. Using a low-cost gamification device can help therapy continue even when a therapist is not physically present.

The pilot test of GesAircraft has provided Dr. Putrino with valuable data and feedback to continue exploring gamification therapy. "We are rapidly working to increase the number of games that we can offer to stroke survivors," says Dr. Putrino, "whilst also expanding out to other neurological conditions such as Cerebral Palsy that require engaging motor training for rehabilitation."

As the chief technology officer for Not Impossible, Dr. Putrino consults on many different Not Impossible projects. He has worked on two projects centered on enabling locked-in individuals to communicate. Locked-in disorders are a consequence of certain rare neurological disorders where muscles in the body are paralyzed except for the eye movement. For individuals who have control of eye movements, he worked on the Don's Voice project. However, some locked-in individuals have progressed to a point where the ability to use eye-movement is also lost. This is what the Brainwriter, another Not Impossible initiative, was designed for. The Brainwriter is a low-cost system that will enable completely locked-in individuals to respond to simple yes or no questions using thought alone. All of Not Impossible projects that address locked-in disorders are inspired by LA graffiti artist TemptOne.

Not Impossible collaborative projects utilize technology to help make the world a better place, and aims to provide a solution focusing on a single individual's needs to inspire solutions for many. Dr. Putrino spoke at the third annual Smithsonian magazine’s The Future Is Here Festival in Washington D.C. in May 14 to 17, 2015. At the festival Dr. Putrino demonstrated EEG-driven communication technology for locked-in neurological individuals using Brain-Computer Interface software designed by another Burke talent, Dr. Jeremy Hill. In addition to Brianwriter and Don's Voice, Dr. Putrino has collaborated on Not Impossible’s Project Daniel, and is involved in several ongoing projects; Walk: Not Impossible, Memory: Not Impossible, and Global labs. Dr. Putrino's involvement with Not Impossible is important to him because it enables him to observe an implemented technical solution helping an individual's health and wellbeing.

Last October, Dr. Putrino's research took him from the lab to the beach in Salina Cruz, Mexico for a collaborative surf science project with Red Bull's High Performance talent-sponsoring division. During a week of surf camp, Dr. Putrino's lab suited up 15-year-old professional surfer Jake Marshall to a waterproof EEG system to record and capture surf-brain activity to help answer Red Bull's question "What does stoke look like in the brain?"

The neuroscience research team was able to record 17 minutes of EEG data as Jake paddled out and selected a wave worthy of riding all the way back to the beach. While the team is still analyzing the data, Dr. Putrino is amazed by Jake's alpha waves that are similar to wave patterns associated with relaxation and meditation. "We'd say, close your eyes and focus on your breathing, and immediately we'd see this overwhelming alpha power," says Putrino. "It's not often you see that so strongly."

By studying the minds of surfers and Red Bull-sponsored professional athletes using powerful low-cost technology the Putrino lab's mission is to enable athletes with tools and information to enhance their performance. This first time exploration of using a waterproof EEG system has Red Bull and the Putrino lab asking more questions to about the brains of athletes. In Project Endurance 2.0 non-invasive brain stimulation techniques were used to help answer the question "Can we use technology to switch off the brain’s fatigue signal and take our bodies to new levels of performance?"

"Several of the devices we have used on Red Bull High Performance projects, such as the Vital Connect, are now being used on clinical populations here at Burke. It is important to understand the relationship of high performance training and rehabilitation. Aiming to enhance human performance is the ultimate goal of rehabilitation, we often forget that this is the same goal of elite athletes, and there is much that we can learn from the field." says Dr. Putrino. "Red Bull High Performance provides us with the means to examine the approach of leaders in the field of human performance up close and in detail."

It's clear that health-tech devices and telemedicine can make an impact in improving the health and wellbeing of individuals. By exploring athlete's brains, collaborating to build personalized health enabling devices, and piloting gamification physical rehabilitation products, Dr. Putrino is focused on pioneering solutions that can make a difference to many. He is on a mission to develop a comprehensive telemedicine platform for Burke to provide remote treatment and assessment services for patients. He has set forth on a path to prove that health-tech and virtual applications in the health care industry can be both low-cost and a form of personalized care. He is driven to raise the standard of care for patients at Burke and everywhere.

June 2015