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Ellen Costello Ellen Costello
Director of Admissions
Director, Physical Therapy Program
Associate Professor of Health, Human Function, and Rehabilitation Sciences

Office Phone: 202-994-0056
Email: Email
Department: Health, Human Function, and Rehabilitation Sciences


  • BS, Ithaca College, 1982
  • MS, New York Medical College, 1986
  • PhD, New York University, 1998


Dr. Ellen Costello is a physical therapist educator who has been a member of the GW faculty since 2004. Dr. Costello has served as Program Director since 2018, and previously served as the Associate Program Director. Her primary areas of teaching include gross anatomy and management of individuals with cardiovascular and pulmonary dysfunction. She has practiced in a variety of settings including a large city hospital burn and trauma center, an oncology specialty hospital, and home care. She has received a number of teaching excellence and research awards at GW and other institutions.

With grant support from a variety of funding sources, Dr. Costello has worked independently and collaboratively on topics that range from outcomes in physical therapist education to physical activity in the older population and acute care practice. She has published and presented her research in both peer-reviewed journals and at national and international research forums. Dr. Costello is a member of the Cardiovascular and Pulmonary, Education, Acute Care and Geriatrics Sections of the APTA. She is currently an on-site reviewer for CAPTE, the accrediting body of the APTA. She is also the Director of the Community Fitness Program at GW, a service offered to local seniors with chronic health conditions.


Exploration of the DPT student experience using non-cognitive factors and student performanceFunded by: GW SMHS Faculty Excellence

Thoracic manipulation to improve pulmonary ventilation Funded by: AAOMPT

Reducing Fall Risk in person with Multiple Sclerosis

Fall Prevention benefits of a divided-attention timed stepping accuracytask (DATSAT) for older adults with fall risk Funded by: SMHS Emerging Scholars Grant GWU

The Use of Technology to Enhance the CLinical Decision Making Skills of Physical Therapist Students in the Acute Care Setting Funded by: SMHS Emerging Scholars Grant GWU

Establishing the Validity and Reliability of Selected Measures of Physical Performance for an Older Population with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Funded by: The National Collaborative on Aging GWU

Evaluation of Senior Friendly Neighborhood Program Funded by: The Weinberg Foundation

Investigating Aspects of the Physical Dimension of the Wellness Model Among Independent Living Residentsof Asbury Methodist Village, A Continuing Care Retirement Community Funded by: Asbury Methodist Village

Sure Feet: A Comprehensive Falls Prevention Program for DC Area Seniors Funded by: Tikum Women's Foundation

Factors Predicting Success of Physical Therapist Assistant Graduates on the National Physical Therapy Examination Funded by: Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy


World Confederation for Physical Congress 2017 Elsevier Journal Sponsored Award-Best Platform Presentation North American Caribbean Region (July 4, 2017)

The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching

The George Washington University Program in Physical Therapy Outstanding Faculty Award

The George Washington University Program in Physical Therapy Outstanding Faculty Award

The George Washington University Bender Award for Excellence in Teaching

The George Washington University Alpha Eta Honor Society

American Physical Therapy Association Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Section Research Award

Faculty Research Award: School of Medicine & Health Sciences 10th Annual GW Health Sciences Research Day

American Physical Therapy Association New York Chapter Robert S. Salant Award for Outstanding Research

Ithaca College Dana Fellow Teaching Award

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society, New York Chapter Award

Phi Kappa Phi National Professional Honor Society


  • Physical Therapy


Scalzitti DA, Costello E. Overview of physical therapy. Chapter 78. In Principles of Rehabilitation Medicine. Mitra R (editor). McGraw-Hill. 2019.

Maring J, Vail M, Wright K, Tebbenhoff B, Canova K, Costello E. Attitudes toward academic dishonesty in health profession students. J of Allied Health. 2018.(47(4):e97-e103

Costello E, Maring J. Mapping and assessment of a threaded acute care curriculum using entry-level core competencies established by Academy of Acute Care Physical Therapy. Journal of Acute Care Physical Therapy. 2018. 9(2):60-77.

Scalzitti DA, Harwood KJ, Maring JR, Leach SJ, Ruckert EA, Costello E. Validation of the 2-.minute walk test with the 6-minute walk test and other activity measures in persons with multiple sclerosis. Int J MS Care. 2018.20(4):158-163.

Costello E, Ruckert E, Lyons L, Cotton L, Birkmeier M. To treat or not to treat: The use of computer assisted learning to enhance clinical decision making and self-efficacy of student physical therapists in the acute care setting. J of Phys Ther Educ. 2017.31(3):27-36

Costello E, Corcoran M, Barnett J, Birkmeier M, Cohn R, Ekmekci O, Falk N, Harrod T, Herrmann D, Robinson S, Walker B. Information and communication technology to facilitate learning for student in the health professions: Current uses, gaps and future directions. Online Learning. 2014.18(4). 15-31.

Maring J, Costello E, Birkmeier M, Richards M. Alexander L. Validating functional measures of physical ability for aging persons with intellectual developmental disability. Amer J Intell Dev Disab. 2013; 118(2):124-40.

Maring J, Costello E, Zuber E, Ulfers M. Curriculum, faculty and cohort variables predicting physical therapist assistant program graduate success on the national physical therapy examination. J of Phys Ther Educ. 2013;27(2):33-40.

Costello E, Leone J, Ellzy E, Miller T. Older adult perceptions of the physician’s role in promoting physical activity. Disabil Rehabil. 2013:35(14): 1191-1198.

Costello E, Elrod C, Tepper S. Clinical decision making in the acute care environment: A survey of practicing clinicians. J of Acute Care Phys Ther. 2011;2(2):46-54.

Costello E, Plack M, Maring J. Validating a standardized patient assessment tool using published professional standards. J of Phys Ther Educ. 2011;25(3): 30-45.

Costello E, Corcoran M. How to bathe a person with dementia: An evidence based guide. Geriatrics & Aging. 2009;12(9):464-468.

Maring J, Costello E. Education Program and Student Characteristics associated with pass rates on the national physical therapy examination for physical therapist assistants. J of Phys Ther Educ. 2009;23(1):3-11.

Costello E, Raivel K, Wilson R. The effects of a twelve-week home walking program on cardiovascular parameters and fatigue perception of individuals with multiple sclerosis: A pilot study. Cardiopulm Phys Ther J. 2009;20(1):5-12.

Costello E, Edelstein J. Update of falls prevention for community-dwelling older adults: Review of single and multifactorial intervention programs. J of Rehabil Res Dev. 2008;45(8):1135-1152.

Maring J, Costello E, Plack M. Student outcomes in a pathophysiology course based on mode of delivery: distance versus traditional classroom learning. J of Phys Ther Educ. 2008;22(1):22-30.

Melson J, Maring J, Costello E, Plack M. Comparison of faculty expectations to student performance on a clinical skills performance instrument. J of American Academy of Physician Assistant. 2007.20(7): 35-362007.

Costello E, Curtis C, Sandel I, Bassile C. Exercise prescription for individuals with multiple sclerosis. Neurology Report. 1996;20(2):24-29.

Alexander, J.A., & Costello, E. Physical and Surgical Therapy. In L.C. Scheinberg & N.J. Holland, ed., Multiple Sclerosis: A Guide for Patients and Their Families: New York, Raven Press, 1987, p. 79-107.

Industry Relationships and Collaborations

This faculty member (or a member of their immediate family) has reported a financial interest with the health care related companies listed below. These relations have been reported to the University and, when appropriate, management plans are in place to address potential conflicts.

  • None