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Charles Odonkor, MD, MA

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

Contact Information

Charles Odonkor, MD, MA

Office Location

Mailing Address

  • Orthopaedics & Rehabilitation

    P.O. Box 208071

    New Haven, CT 06520-8071

    United States

Research Summary

Dr. Odonkor’s research focuses on using mobile applications and wearable technology to monitor physical activity and performance in chronic pain and mobility-limiting musculoskeletal disorders.

The philosophy undergirding his research is that movement is key to life. Humans have evolved to move and when we stop moving, we get sick. Along the same lines, pain from injury or chronic illness can stop us in our tracks and it is really hard to deal with this loss, or even overcome the fear of moving. Thus, his research addresses mobility-limiting musculoskeletal conditions by incorporating our understanding of body biomechanics and expertise in bioinformatics to find novel ways to enhance and evaluate physical activity. He hopes that his research helps to promote independence, maximize function, and enhance patient quality of life.

Extensive Research Description

The primary goal of Dr. Odonkor’s lab is to establish activity based digital biomarkers for musculoskeletal disease such as knee osteoarthritis and spine conditions and to define functional thresholds for healthy versus disease phenotypes.

Dr. Odonkor's lab is interested in utilizing insights from quantitative analytics and bioinformatics:

  • To develop tools for precision health and pain medicine
  • To bridge the gap between subjective qualitative versus objective quantitative approach to treatment, prevention and management of orthopedic and musculoskeletal conditions.

From a population health perspective, the lab is working together with collaborators at Stanford:

  • To help establish safe prescriptive and diagnostic physical activity parameters for persons with spine and pain conditions to encourage a more active and healthy patient population.

In partnerships with researchers at Harvard, the lab is also studying:

  • The long-term clinical impact of neuromodulation therapies such as spinal cord stimulation, dorsal root ganglion stimulation, peripheral nerve stimulation in the treatment of chronic pain disorders.
  • Health care resource utilization, disparities in health outcomes and access to neuromodulation therapies

Selected Research Awards

2019 North American Neuromodulation Society (NANS), Research Travel Award

2017 1st Place, Best of Meeting Research Paper Award, American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine (ASRA)

2017 President’s Citation Award for Best Research Paper, American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (AAPMR)

2017 1st Place, Best Research Paper Award, Resident Category, Association of Academic Physiatrists (AAP)

2015 American Pain Society Young Investigator Award

2013 1st Place, Best Paper Award, Medical Student Category, Association of Academic Physiatrist (AAP)

2013 Harvard Medical School, Ruth and William Silen MD Award

Research Press Coverage

Opioids, Sedating Drugs Can Undermine SCS Treatment PainMedicineNews, October 2, 2019

Low pain scores following spinal cord stimulation trials found predictive of successful implants NeuroNews, September 11, 2019

Advances toward precision pain medicine: digital biomarkers, 11th Congress of the European Pain Federation, scientific program, 2019 September 4, 2019

Opioids, Benzos affect Spinal Cord Stimulation Test,MedPage Today, March 12, 2019

Precipitating events associated with successful radiofrequency ablation of lumbar facet joint pain Spinal News International January 17, 2018


Research Interests

Arthritis; Back Pain; Bursitis; Information Science; Arthralgia; Healthcare Disparities; Musculoskeletal Pain; Analytical, Diagnostic and Therapeutic Techniques and Equipment; Health Care; Wearable Electronic Devices; COVID-19

Public Health Interests

Bioethics; Bioinformatics; Biomarkers; Clinical Guidelines; Clinical Trials; Health Care Quality, Efficiency; Health Equity, Disparities, Social Determinants and Justice; COVID-19

Selected Publications