Nutrition, Metabolism & Rehabilitation Sciences

Faculty & Staff

Kenneth Ottenbacher

Kenneth J. Ottenbacher, PhD, OTR
Professor Emeritus and Former Director of the Rehabilitation Sciences PhD Program

Google Scholar SCOPUS

Contact Information

301 University Blvd.
Galveston, TX 77555-0177


Research Area

Research methods, functional assessment, rehabilitation outcomes


Kenneth J. Ottenbacher, PhD, OTR is a Professor Emeritus and the Former Director of the Rehabilitation Sciences PhD Program for the Department of Nutrition, Metabolism and Rehabilitation Sciences in the School of Health Professions (SHP) at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB).


  • BS - University of Montana, Missoula, 1972
  • BS - University of Central Arkansas, Conway, 1975
  • MS - University of Tennessee, Knoxville, 1976
  • PhD - University of Missouri, Columbia, 1982

Grants & Funding

  • Received continuous federal funding as a principal investigator since 1984 totaling more than $40 million.

Selected Honors

  • 2020 - Geriatric Society of America (GSA) Excellence in Rehabilitation of Aging Persons Award
  • 2017 - 100 most influential people in occupational therapy, American Occupational Therapy Association (selected as part of the Centennial Celebration of the American Occupational Therapy Association)
  • 2016 - Gold Key Award, American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine
  • 2013 - Presidents' Commendation (in honor of Wilma L. West) from the American Occupational Therapy Association & American Occupational Therapy Foundation (only 14 Commendations awarded)
  • 2012 - Founding Member, Academy of Research Mentors, UTMB
  • 2011 - Blue Ribbon Panel National Institutes for Health (Medical Rehabilitation Review across the NIH)
  • 2010 - Edward Lowman Award, American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine
  • 2010 - Distinguished Faculty Research Award, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, UTMB
  • 2005 Russell Shearn Moody Distinguished Chair in Cognitive Rehabilitation, UTMB (endowed)
  • 2003 - Award of Merit, American Occupational Therapy Association (Highest Award) 2002 Leone Award for Administrative Excellence, University of Texas Medical Branch
  • 2001 - Fannie Kempner Adoue Distinguished Professor, University of Texas Medical Branch (endowed)
  • 2000 - Best research article (senior author), American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
  • 1998 - Commencement Speaker, School of Health Related Professions, State University of New York at Buffalo
  • 1997 - Sidney & Elizabeth Licht Award for Excellence in Scientific Writing, American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine
  • 1993 - Dean's Award – Scholarly Excellence, School of Health Related Professions, SUNY at Buffalo
  • 1988 - A.J. Ayres Award, American Occupational Therapy Foundation
  • 1976 - Phi Kappa Phi Academic Honor Society Outstanding Achievement Award

Positions (selected)

  • 2021 - Professor Emeritus, Division of Rehabilitation Sciences, UTMB
  • 2018-2021 - Associate Director, Center for Recovery, Physical Activity and Nutrition, UTMB
  • 2018-2021 - Director, Rehabilitation Sciences PhD Program (2000-15), Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, UTMB
  • 2001-2021 - Professor, Department of Internal Medicine (Geriatrics), UTMB
  • 2000-2018 - Director, Center for Recovery, Physical Activity and Nutrition (formerly Center for Rehabilitation Sciences), UTMB
  • 2000-2021 - Professor and Director, Division of Rehabilitation Sciences & Senior Associate Dean for Graduate Education and Research (2000-15), SHP, UTMB
  • 1999-2021 - Associate Director, Sealy Center on Aging, UTMB
  • 1995-2021 - Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy, School of Health Professions (SHP), UTMB
  • 1995-2001 - Vice Dean, School of Health Professions, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, UTMB
  • 1992-1995 - Associate Director, Center for Functional Assessment Research; Professor, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, SUNY
  • 1990-1994 - Associate Dean, School of Health Related Professions; Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy, State University of New York at Buffalo (SUNY)
  • 1982-1990 - Assistant, Associate, & Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Fellow Status

  • 2014 - Gerontological Society of America (Health Sciences Section)
  • 2005 - American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine
  • 1984 - American Occupational Therapy Association

Notable Publications

  • Puebla Neira, D.A., Hsu, E.S., Kuo, Y-F., Ottenbacher, K.J., Sharma, G. (2021). Readmissions Reduction Program, Mortality, and Readmissions for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.  203, 5, 649–651 Sep 1. doi: 10.1164/rccm.202002-0310OC.
  • Na, A., Middleton, A., Haas, A., Graham, J.E., Ottenbacher, K.J. (2020). Impact of diabetes on 90-day episodes of care after elective total joint arthroplasty among Medicare beneficiaries. Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. American. 102, 24, 2157–2165. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.20.00203.
  • Hong, I., Westra, J.R., Goodwin, J.S., Karmarkar, A., Kuo, Y.F., Ottenbacher, K.J. (2020). Association of pain on hospital discharge with the risk of 30-day readmission in patients with total hip and knee replacement. Journal of Arthroplasty. Dec;35(12):3528-3534.e2.
  • Bhavnani, S., Dang, B., Penton, R., Visweswaran, S., Bassler, K., Chen, T., Raji, M., Divekar, R., Zuhour, R., Karmarkar, A., Kuo, Y-F., Ottenbacher, K.J. (2020) How High-risk comorbidities co-occur in readmitted patients with hip fracture:  Big data visual analytical approach. JMIR Medical Informatics. Oct 26;8(10):e13567. PMCID: PMC7652691.
  • Downer, B., Pritchard, K., Thomas, KS., Ottenbacher, K.J. (2020). Improvement in ADLs during a nursing home stay and one-year mortality among older adults with sepsis. Journal American Geriatrics Society. 69, 938-945. doi: 10.1111/jgs.16915
  • Downer, B., Al Snih, S., Chou, L.N., Kuo, Y.F., Raji, M., Markides K.S., Ottenbacher, K.J. (2020). Changes in Healthcare Use by Mexican-American Medicare Beneficiaries Before and After a Diagnosis of Dementia. (2020) Journal Gerontology A: Biology & Medical Sciences. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glaa236
  • Journal of the American Medical Directors Association. Oct 8; S1525-8610(20)30712-X. doi: 10.1016/j.jamda.2020.08.021.
  • Li C.Y., Karmarkar A., Kuo Y.F., Mehta H.B., Mallinson T., Haas A., Kumar A., Ottenbacher K.J. (2020). A comparison of three methods in categorizing functional status to predict hospital readmission across post-acute care. PLoS One, 15(5):e0232017. eCollection 2020. PMCID: PMC7205206.
  • Hreha, K.P., Fisher, S.R., Reistetter, T.A., Ottenbacher, K.J., Haas, A., Li, C.-Y, Ehrlich, J.R, Whitaker, D.B., Whitson, H.E. (2020). Use of the Icd-10 Vision Codes to Study Ocular Conditions in Medicare Beneficiaries with Stroke. BMC Health Services Research. 20, 1, 8, #628. DOI: 10.1186/s12913-020-05484-z. PMCID: PMC7346474.
  • Howrey, B.T., Al Snih, S., Middleton, J.A., Ottenbacher, K.J. (2020).  Trajectories of Frailty and Cognitive Decline Among Older Mexican Americans. Journals of Gerontology. Series A, Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences. 75(8), 1551-1557. MCID: PMC7357562.
  • Li C.Y., Al Snih S., Chou L.N., Karmarkar A., Kuo Y..F, Markides K.S., Ottenbacher K.J. (2020). Frailty transitions predict healthcare use and Medicare payments in older Mexican Americans: a longitudinal cohort study. BMC Geriatrics, 20(1):189. PMCID: PMC7268381.
  • Welsh R.L., Wild D.L., Karmarkar A.M., Leland N.E., Baillargeon J.G., Ottenbacher K.J., Graham J.E. (2020). Predictors of discharge settings following total knee arthroplasty in Medicare patients. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 2020 Sep;101(9):1509-1514.
  • Li C.Y., Karmarkar A., Kuo Y.F., Haas A., Ottenbacher K.J. (2020). Impact of Self-Care and Mobility on One or More Post-Acute Care Transitions. Journal of Aging and Health. 2020 Dec.,32(10):1325-1334. PMCID: PMC7718286.
  • Knox, S., Downer, B., Haas, A., Middleton, A., Ottenbacher, K.J. (2020). Function and Caregiver Support Associated with Readmissions during Home Health for Individuals with Dementia. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 101(6), 1009-1016. PMCID: PMC7279123.
  • Sodhi, J.K., Karmarkar, A., Raji, M., Markides, K.S., Ottenbacher, K.J., Al Snih, S. (2020). Pain as a predictor of frailty over time among older Mexican Americans. Pain, 161(1), 109-113. PMCID: PMC6923536
  • McGrath, R.P., Ottenbacher, K.J., Vincent, B.M., Kraemer, W.J., Peterson, M.D. (2020). Muscle weakness and functional limitations in an ethnically diverse sample of older adults. Ethnicity and Health, Apr;125(3):342-353. Online. PMCID: N/A
  • Downer, B., Al Snih, S., Raji, M., Chou, L.N., Kuo, Y.F., Markides, K.S., Ottenbacher, K.J. (2020). Healthcare utilization of Mexican-American Medicare beneficiaries with and without Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. PLoS One, 15(1): e0227681.eCollection 2020. PMCID: PMC6961888
  • Hong, I., Pryor, L., Wong, R., Ottenbacher, K.J., Reistetter, T.A. (2019). Comparisons of the Association of Family and Social Factors with Functional Limitations across the United States, Mexico, and South Korea: Findings from the HRS Family of Surveys. Journal of Aging and Health. 2020 Oct;32(9):1042-1051. PMCID: PMC7124985 (available on 10-01-2021).
  • Malcolm, M.P., Middleton, A., Haas, A., Ottenbacher, K.J., Graham, J.E. (2019). Variation in Facility-Level Rates of All-Cause and Potentially Preventable 30-Day Hospital Readmissions among Medicare Fee-for-Service Beneficiaries after Discharge from Postacute Inpatient Rehabilitation. JAMA Network Open, 2(12): e1917559. PMCID: PMC6991209.
  • Hong, I., Goodwin, J.S., Reistetter, T.A., Kuo, Y.F., Mallinson, T., Karmarkar, A., Lin, Y.L., Ottenbacher, K.J. (2019). Comparison of Functional Status Improvements among Patients with Stroke Receiving Postacute Care in Inpatient Rehabilitation vs Skilled Nursing Facilities. JAMA Network Open, 2(12): e1916646. PMCID: PMC6902754.
  • Knox, S., Downer, B., Haas, A., Middleton, A., Ottenbacher, K.J. (2019). Dementia Severity Associated with Increased Risk of Potentially Preventable Readmissions during Home Health Care. Journal of the American Medical Director’s Association, 21(4), 519-524. PMCID: PMC7127929.
  •  Kumar, A., Rivera-Hernandez, M., Karmarkar, A.M., Chou, L.N., Kuo, Y.F., Baldwin, J.A., Panagiotou, O.A., Burke, R.E., Ottenbacher, K.J. (2019). Social and Health-Related Factors Associated with Enrollment in Medicare Advantage Plans in Older Adults. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 68(2), 313-320. PMCID: PMC7015142.
  • Li, C.Y., Al Snih, S., Chen, N.W., Markides, K.S., Sodhi, J., Ottenbacher, K.J. (2019). Validation of the Modified Frailty Phenotype Measure in Older Mexican Americans. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 67(11), 2393-2397. PMCID: PMC6861608.
  • Downer, B., Al Snih, S., Howrey, B.T., Raji, M.A., Markides, K.S., Ottenbacher, K.J. (2019). Combined effects of cognitive impairment and pre-frailty on future frailty and death in older Mexican Americans. Aging and Mental Health, 23(10), 1405-1412. PMCID: PMC6534489.
  • Nastars, D.R., Rojas, J.D., Ottenbacher, K.J., Graham, J.E. (2019). Race/Ethnicity and 30-Day Readmission Rates in Medicare Beneficiaries with COPD. Respiratory Care, 64(8), 931-936. doi: 10.4187/respcare.06475.
  • Ottenbacher, K.J., Graham, J.E., Fisher, S.R. (2019). Data Science in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation: Opportunities and Challenges. Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Clinics of North America, 30(2), 459-471. doi: 10.1016/j.pmr.2018.12.003. PMID: 30964441.
  • Downer, B., Al Snih, S., Chou, L.N., Kuo, Y.F., Markides, K.S., Ottenbacher, K.J. (2019). Differences in hospitalizations, emergency room admissions, and outpatient visits among Mexican-American Medicare beneficiaries. BMC Geriatrics, 19(1), 136. PMCID: PMC6528336.
  • Jarvis, J.M., Downer, B., Baillargeon, J., Khetani, M., Ottenbacher, K.J., Graham, J.E. (2019). The modifying effect of positive emotion on the relationship between cognitive impairment and disability among older Mexican Americans: a cohort study. Disability and Rehabilitation, 41(13):1491-1498. PMCID: PMC6066465.
  • Middleton, A., Downer, B., Haas, A., Knox, S., Ottenbacher, K.J. (2019). Functional status is associated with 30-day potentially preventable readmissions following home health care. Medical Care, 57(2), 145-151. PMCID: PMC6358180.
  • Middleton, A., Graham, J.E., Prvu Bettger, J., Haas, A., Ottenbacher, K.J. (2018). Facility and geographic variation in rates of successful community discharge following inpatient rehabilitation among Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries. JAMA Network Open. 1(7): e184332. Online. PMCID: PMC6324386.

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