Robert J. Butler, PT, DPT, PhD

Assistant Professor

Phone: (919) 681-7225
Office: Wing B, #249

Dr. Butler is a clinical scientist, an educator and a mentor in the DPT Program. His specific area of expertise is in clinical biomechanics. Dr. Butler brings this expertise to the Movement Science sequence in the first year of the DPT curriculum. His research is focused on the role of functional movement outcomes in identifying and addressing movement dysfunction as it relates to reducing injury risk, improving therapeutic outcomes, and reducing the rate of joint degeneration. He has presented a number of abstracts at national and international conferences and has published multiple publications in rehabilitation and biomechanical journals. Dr. Butler serves as a movement based outcomes consultant for a number of orthopedic and sports medicine groups nationally and internationally in populations ranging across the lifespan.

Educational History

  • University of Evansville, DPT, 2009
  • University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, postdoctoral fellow, 2006
  • University of Delaware, PhD, 2005
  • Springfield College, BS, 1999
  • Marietta College, BS, 1999


Duke University School of Medicine - Doctor of Physical Therapy curriculum
  • Movement Science I & II (PT604/614); Foundational Physical Therapy Examination (PT 616); Evidence Based Practice Capstone (PT724); Applied Biomechanics Elective (PT 725)


Orthopaedics, Sports Medicine, Physician Collaborative Practice, Clinical Research Partnerships.


Dr. Butler's overarching research goal is to reduce the incidence of early joint degeneration following ACL reconstruction. He is looking to accomplish this goal by 1) identifying readily available methodologies to screen for individuals at risk for sustaining primary and secondary ACL tears, 2) establishing evidence based return to activity criteria following ACL reconstructive surgery, and 3) normalizing inefficient movement patterns with the goal of reducing articular cartilage loading. Dr. Butler works closely with health care professionals and researchers in Duke Orthopaedics and Duke Sports Medicine in order to establish inter-disciplinary standards for optimizing patient outcomes. The work of his team has recently been highlighted during the rehabilitation following ACL injury of Marcus Stroman

Selected Publications

  • S. Mayer, D. Taylor, C.T. Moorman, A. Toth, W.E. Garrett, R.M. Queen, R.J. Butler. (in press) Functional testing differences in anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction patients released versus not released to return to sport. Am J Sports Med
  • R.M. Queen, A. Vap, C.T. Moorman, W.E. Garrett, R.J. Butler. (in press) Gender Differences in Plantar Loading during an Unanticipated Side-cut on Field Turf. Clin J Sports Med>.
  • M. Boyle, R.J. Butler, R.M. Queen. (in press) Functional Movement Recovery After Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction in Adolescent Patients. J Ped Ortho.
  • R.J. Butler, B. Dai, W.E. Garrett, R.M. Queen. (2014) Changes in landing mechanics in patients following ACL reconstruction when wearing an extension constraint knee brace. Sports Health. 6(3):203-9.
  • R.J. Butler, R.A. Ruberte-Thiele, C.L. Barnes, M.P. Bolognesi, R.M. Queen. (2015) Unipedal Balance is Affected by Lower Extremity Joint Arthroplasty Procedure 1 Year Following Surgery. J Arthroplasty. 30(2): 286-9.
Please visit Dr. Butler's Scholars@Duke Page for more Publications.

Awards & Honors

  • Co-Author, Resident Research Award (1st place) at 2013 North Carolina Orthopaedic Association Annual Meeting. C. Ledford. Percent Body Fat More Associated with Perioperative Outcomes After Total Joint Arthroplasty than BMI.
  • Co-Author/Mentor, Duke University Clinical Research Day 2013 Top 10 abstract. B. Buzzell. Association of ankle range of motion on functional testing and landing mechanics
  • Co-Author, American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society Goldner Award Summer 2011, Changes in Gait Mechanics Two Years Following Total Ankle Replacement. Duke Medicine Research Day Outstanding Abstract 2011, An economical model for sports injury screening in college athletes.
  • Duke Medicine Research Day Outstanding Abstract 2011, An economical model for sports injury screening in college athletes.
  • Finalist for Nike Award for Athletic Footwear Research, International Society of Biomechanics Satellite Meeting on Functional Footwear 2005.