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Charles Odonkor, MD, MA

Assistant Professor of Orthopaedics & Rehabilitation; Assistant Professor, Orthopedics and Rehabilitation

Contact Information

Charles Odonkor, MD, MA

Patient Care Locations

Office Location

Mailing Address

  • Orthopaedics & Rehabilitation

    P.O. Box 208071

    New Haven, CT 06520-8071

    United States



As a physiatrist (a doctor who practices physical medicine and rehabilitation), Charles Odonkor, MD, is used to explaining his medical specialty.

“As humans, we evolved to be creatures of movement—you stop moving, you get sick. And sometimes chronic illness or pain will stop you in your tracks. That’s where a physiatrist steps in,” Dr. Odonkor says. “I use my toolbox, which includes medications, exercises, physical modalities, or interventions to help you get back to moving again and doing what you enjoy.”

Physiatry, he explains, goes beyond thinking about the body as just parts to looking at how the nerves, bones, muscles, and tendons are connected, with each one impacting function and movement.

Dr. Odonkor completed a fellowship in pain medicine at Harvard Medical School and a physiatry residency and patient safety and health systems design fellowship at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. As an alumnus of Yale School of Medicine, he is excited to return to Yale to bring his expertise in advanced pain intervention techniques, regenerative medicine and neuromodulation to alleviate chronic pain.

Dr. Odonkor is passionate about providing exceptional patient care experience and designing value care processes that promote comprehensive functional restoration. He says that in tackling challenging conditions like complex regional pain syndrome, lumbar stenosis, and hip, spine, and joint pain, “one of the things I enjoy most is forming a therapeutic relationship with patients. That’s where the healing starts.”

“To me, pain is like a big black box. We are in the 21st century and there still is so much we don’t know about it,” he adds.

His research interests include wearable devices that involve biosensors that, for a patient with a chronic back pain, for example, track changes in range of motion, gait speed, physical activity, and other measures of function.

Dr. Odonkor is an assistant professor of orthopedics and rehabilitation at Yale School of Medicine.

Education & Training

  • Clinical Fellow
    Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital (2019)
  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow
    Stanford University, Wearable Health Lab (2018)
  • Resident
    Johns Hopkins Hospital (2017)
  • Fellow
    Johns Hopkins Hospital (2016)
  • Intern
    Yale New Haven Hospital (2014)
  • MD
    Yale School of Medicine (2013)
  • MA
    Washington University in St. Louis, Developmental, Cell and Molecular Biology (2008)


  • Spinal Cord Stimulation vs. Conventional Therapies: Review of Health Care Resource Utilization
    Las Vegas, NV, United States 2020
    North American Neuromodulation Society
  • Digital biomarkers of gait and associations with function in knee osteoarthritis and lumbar spinal stenosis
    Valencia, Valencian Community, Spain 2019
    11th Congress of the European Pain Federation
  • Impact of Opioids, Benzodiazepines and Muscle Relaxants on Spinal Cord Stimulation Trial vs. Success.
    Denver, CO, United States 2019
    2019 Annual Meeting, American Academy of Pain Medicine
  • Gait features for discriminating between mobility-limiting musculoskeletal disorders: lumbar spinal stenosis and knee osteoarthritis.
    San Antonio, TX, United States 2018
    Annual Assembly of the American Academy of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
  • Identification of wearable-sensor derived gait features associated with physical function in knee OA and lumbar spine stenosis
    Orlando, FL, United States 2018
    AAPMR Annual Assembly
  • Innovations in Outcome Measures for Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
    Atlanta, GA, United States 2018
    Association of Academic Physiatrists
  • Identification of precursor events associated with lumbar facet joint pain
    Lake Buena Vista, FL, United States 2017
    16th Annual Pain Medicine Meeting, American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine
  • The Business of Medicine: Using Predictive Analytics to Reduce Appointment Recidivism at an Academic Pain Treatment Center.
    Denver, CO, United States 2017
    Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
  • Immediate vs. Prolonged Pain Relief after Sacroiliac Joint Injection with Anesthetic and Corticosteroid: A Prospective Study.
    San Francisco, CA, United States 2017
    Annual Meeting of the Spine Intervention Society
  • Establishing Physiatry Abroad: Novel use of A Decision Matrix Framework to Identify and Address Rehabilitation Medicine Training and Education Curricula Needs in Sub-Saharan Africa
    Las Vegas, NV, United States 2017
    Annual Meeting of the Association of Academic Physiatrists
  • Searching for an oasis in a physiatry desert: a global survey of the disability training and education landscape of healthcare trainees in West Africa
    New Orleans, LA, United States 2016
    Annual Assembly of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
  • Radiofrequency Neurotomy for Chronic OA after Total Knee Arthroplasty: A case series
    Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan 2016
    16th World Congress on Pain, the International Association for the Study of Pain
  • Connecting the dots: A comparative global multi-institutional study of prohibitive factors affecting cancer pain management.
    Baltimore, MD, United States 2016
    1st Annual Excellence in Diversity Symposium
  • Opioid Overdose Prevention and Treatment: Can A Lean Six Sigma Paradigm Enhance Compliance with Evidence Based Guidelines at a Comprehensive Integrated Inpatient Rehabilitation Program?
    Washington, DC, United States 2016
    Annual Meeting of the American College of Medical Quality
  • Rehabilitation of the lumbar spine in the athlete
    Sacramento, CA, United States 2016
    AAP Annual Meeting
  • Residual Barium in the Pharynx after Swallowing: Two-dimensional Area does not Predict Actual 3D Volume
    Dallas, TX, United States 2015
    92nd Annual Conference, American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine
  • Paul S. Lietman Global Health Travel Fellowship
    Kumasi, Ashanti Region, Ghana (2015-2017)
    Paul S. Lietman Global Health Travel Fellowship
  • Does ethnicity associate with distraction analgesia effect in response to Capsaicin?
    Palm Springs, CA, United States 2015
    34th Annual Scientific Meeting, American Pain Society
  • Levels of rehabilitation care: a comparison of healthcare systems in Japan vs. the United States
    Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan 2015
    Fujita Health University Presidential Fellowship for Rehabilitation Research
  • Functional Outcomes in an Aging Population: a comparison of two simple walking tests among older adults.
    Shinagawa City, Tokyo, Japan 2015
    Showa University School of Medicine Invited Lectureship
  • Innovative Models for Medical Quality Education: Is there a Role for Social Media?
    London, England, United Kingdom 2013
    International Forum on Quality and Safety in Healthcare
  • Cross-validating a new preoperative risk model: can a simple mobility performance test predict discharge outcomes among ambulatory surgical patients?
    Boston, MA, United States 2013
    Harvard Medical School, New England Science Symposium
  • Healthy quality outcomes: do socioeconomic disparities influence 30-day all-cause unplanned surgery and revisits after index ambulatory surgery?
    Phoenix, AZ, United States 2013
    Annual Meeting of the American College of Medical Quality

Honors & Recognition

AwardAwarding OrganizationDate
North American Neuromodulation Society Travel AwardNorth American Neuromodulation Society2019
Doximity ScholarDoximity2018
ASRA Travel AwardAmerican Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine2017
1st Place, Best of Meeting Research Paper AwardAmerica Society of Regional Anesthesia & Pain Medicine2017
President's Citation AwardAmerican Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation2017
1st Place, AAP Best Resident Research Paper AwardAssociation of Academic Physiatrist2017
Regenerative Medicine Scholarship AwardInterventional Orthopedics Foundation2017
Martin Luther King Jnr. Award for Community ServiceJohns Hopkins Health System2016
Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute Leadership AcademyJohns Hopkins Hospital2016
Young Investigator AwardAmerican Pain Society2015
Johns Hopkins Hospital Housestaff Excellence in Leadership AwardJohns Hopkins Hospital2015
Paul S. Lietman Global Health Travel GrantJohns Hopkins Hospital2015
Johns Hopkins Biomedical Scholars Milestones AwardsJohns Hopkins Hospital2015
Fujita Health Presidential Research ScholarshipFujita Health University2015
1st Place, AAP Best Medical Student Research Paper AwardAssociation of Academic Physiatrists2013
Ruth and William Silen MD AwardHarvard Medical School, New England Science Symposium2013
American College of Medical Quality Student and Resident Scholar Award, $1000 Travel Grant, 2013American College of Medical Quality2012
Yale Farr Leadership AwardYale2012
AMSA Medical Humanities AwardAmerican Medical Students Association2011
Yale FASPE Bioethics Research Fellowship AwardYale School of Medicine2011
Mt. Desert Island Biological Research Fellowship AwardYale School of Medicine2009

Professional Service

Spine Intervention Society, Diversity Taskforce, Membership CommitteeCommittee Member2020 - Present
North American Neuromodulation Society, Diversity and Outreach CommitteeResearch subdivision2019 - Present
Spine Intervention Society Research CommitteeCommittee Member2019 - Present
American Academy of Pain Medicine, Pain Medicine JournalReviewer2017 - Present
American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain MedicineMember2017 - Present
American Journal of Physical Medicine and RehabilitationReviewer2017 - Present
North American Neuromodulation SocietyMember2017 - Present
American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Quality Practice Policy and Research CommitteeCommittee Member2016 - 2017
AAPMR Technology Advisory CouncilCommittee Member2016 - 2017
Physiatry in Motion, AAP Resident Fellow NewsletterNewsletter Editor2016 - 2017
American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, PMR JournalReviewer2015 - Present
American Academy of Physical Medicine and RehabilitationMember2015 - Present
President, Association of Academic Physiatrists Resident Fellow CouncilBoard of Directors2015 - 2017
British Journal of SurgeryReviewer2013 - Present

Departments & Organizations