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Landmark Study Identifies the Top 100 Most Cited Neurorehabilitation Journal Papers

Treatment studies, often with a focus on stroke, emerged as the most highly cited

November 3, 2017
Amsterdam, NL – NeuroRehabilitation, an international, interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal focusing on neurologic rehabilitation, announces the publication of a landmark study that identifies the top 100 most cited neurorehabilitation papers and reveals research trends in the field.

The findings are the result of a comprehensive citation analysis of neurorehabilitation papers published between January 2005 and April 2016. The aims were to identify the most frequently cited papers, the journals in which they were published, and authorship trends. The review also provides guidance for future neurorehabilitation research and highlights where there are deficiencies in the current literature.

This milestone analysis was led by Jeffrey S. Kreutzer, PhD, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Nathan S. Zasler, MD, Concussion Care Centre of Virginia Ltd, supported by a team including, amongst others, Aaron A. Sorensen, a noted bibliometrics expert currently at the Digital Science Consultancy, and David Weedon, a publishing consultant, formerly Managing Director of Biology Reports Ltd.

“While there have been previous citation analyses of rehabilitation and its subfields, there has never been a comprehensive citation analysis in neurorehabilitation,” explained Kreutzer and Zasler. “We initiated this study in order to provide important benchmarks for researchers and clinicians in the neurorehabilitation community and identify indicators for future work.”

The research findings show the steady growth in the field with the number of papers published in this field almost tripling over the course of 10 years, from just over 2500 papers in 2005 to nearing 7000 papers in 2015.

Caption: Number of neurorehabilitation articles published annually from 2005 to April 2016.


Much of the scientific inquiry in neurorehabilitation has been focused on advancing treatments for neurological disorders. The findings show that over the last decade, the field has been dominated by the study of stroke. The most frequently cited papers were published in the journals Stroke, Movement Disorders, and Neurology. Authorship trends suggest that top cited papers result from group endeavors. In total, 90 percent of the papers involved a collaboration among three or more authors, of which 6 percent had between 21 and 44 authors.

From a source of 52,581 papers published in 2781 journals (Web of Science), a candidate pool of the most cited neurorehabilitation papers published between 2005 and 2016 was reviewed by the authors. The top 10 papers – listed according to rank, year, authors, journal, total citations, article title – are:

  • 1. 2005, Nasreddine, ZS; et al., Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 1905:
    Title: The Montreal Cognitive Assessment, MoCA: a brief screening tool for mild cognitive impairment
  • 2. 2006, Spitzer, RL; et al., Archives of Internal Medicine, 1196:
    Title: A brief measure for assessing generalized anxiety disorder – The GAD-7
  • 3. 2005, SantaCruz, K; et al., Science, 795:
    Title: Tau suppression in a neurodegenerative mouse model improves memory function
  • 4. 2010, Lees, KR; et al., Lancet, 746:
    Title: Time to treatment with intravenous alteplase and outcome in stroke: an updated pooled analysis of ECASS, ATLANTIS, NINDS, and EPITHET trials
  • 5. 2005, Keirstead, HS; et al., Journal of Neuroscience, 629:
    Title: Human embryonic stem cell-derived oligodendrocyte progenitor cell transplants remyelinate and restore locomotion after spinal cord injury
  • 6. 2006, Albers, GW; et al., Annals of Neurology, 625:
    Title: Magnetic resonance imaging profiles predict clinical response to early reperfusion: the diffusion and perfusion imaging evaluation for understanding stroke evolution (DEFUSE) study
  • 7. 2007, Rha, JH; Saver, JL, Stroke, 623:
    Title: The impact of recanalization on ischemic stroke outcome – a meta-analysis
  • 8. 2008, Avants, BB; et al., Medical Image Analysis, 583:
    Title: Symmetric diffeomorphic image registration with cross-correlation: evaluating automated labeling of elderly and neurodegenerative brain
  • 9. 2008, Davis, SM; et al., Lancet Neurology, 514:
    Title: Effects of alteplase beyond 3 h after stroke in the Echoplanar Imaging Thrombolytic Evaluation Trial (EPITHET): a placebo-controlled randomised trial
  • 10. 2012, Saver, JL; et al., Lancet, 499:
    Title: Solitaire flow restoration device versus the Merci Retriever in patients with acute ischaemic stroke (SWIFT): a randomised, parallel-group, non-inferiority trial

The study also identified the top 50 journals in which the neurorehabilitation papers were published, along with the citation count. The top 10 from that list are:

1. Stroke, 2360
2. Movement Disorders, 2181
3. Neurology, 1732
4. Epilepsia, 1552
5. European Journal of Neurology, 1130
6. International Journal of Stroke, 1119
7. Brain Injury, 954
8. Journal of Neurotrauma, 876
9. Multiple Sclerosis Journal, 831
10. Journal of Neurology, 823

The authors state that it is very likely substantial resources in neurorehabilitation have been dedicated to the study of stroke because stroke continues to be the leading cause of adult acquired disability in the United States and worldwide. The research clearly indicates that “given the high incidence of neurotrauma and neurological disorders, the field of neurorehabilitation remains an important research area.”

“Increased research productivity is also clearly indicated on numerous fronts given the often complex, and long-term needs of this patient population and the dearth of adequate literature in many areas of this subspecialty area of rehabilitation.”

The study was published in NeuroRehabilitation, Volume 40/Issue 2 (2017) by IOS Press. In addition to the complete lists of the top 100 most cited neurorehabilitation journal articles and the 50 journals in which the greatest concentration of neurorehabilitation papers were published, the article includes the de-novo keyword terms that were utilized in the search strategy. Due to the importance for the research community, is openly available online at:


Full study: ‘The top 100 cited neurorehabilitation papers‘ by Kreutzer, JS; Agyemang, AA; Weedon, D; Zasler, N; Oliver, M; Sorensen, AA; van Wijngaarden, S; Leahy, E, NeuroRehabilitation 40 (2017) 163–174.

This review was developed under grants from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research.

Significant findings:
• The most frequently cited neurorehablitation papers were published in the journals Stroke, Movement Disorders, and Neurology.
• Papers tended to focus on treatment studies, especially for stroke.
• Authorship trends suggest that top cited papers result from group endeavors, with 90% of the papers involving a collaboration among three or more authors.
• The number of papers published annually in this field has almost tripled over the course of 10 years, from just over 2500 papers in 2005 to nearing 7000 papers in 2015.

Credentialed journalists wishing to interview the authors should contact Dr Jeffrey S. Kreutzer at

ABOUT NEUROREHABILITATION: NeuroRehabilitation (NRE) is an international journal that emphasizes publication of scientifically based, practical information relevant to all aspects of neurologic rehabilitation. NRE, which celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2017, features peer-reviewed articles that are interdisciplinary in nature and cover the full life span and range of neurological disabilities including stroke, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, neuromuscular disease, and other neurological disorders. Information is intended for an interdisciplinary audience. Issues of the journal are thematically organized. Themes have focused on specific clinical disorders, types of therapy, and age groups.

ABOUT IOS PRESS: Celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2017, IOS Press is headquartered in Amsterdam with satellite offices in the USA, Germany, India and China and serves the information needs of scientific and medical communities worldwide. IOS Press now publishes over 100 international journals and about 75 book titles each year on subjects ranging from computer sciences and mathematics to medicine and the natural sciences.