NIDRR Research Spotlight, Volume 1 Number 1

Twenty-one percent of the top cited articles in rehabilitation journals were written by NIDRR grantees. What does this mean for you: the researcher, the practitioner, or the person with a disability?.

In May of 2010, the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (APMR) published an analysis of the top cited articles in rehabilitation. The article by Shadgan, Roig, HajGhanbari, and Reid searched for the 100 top-cited articles published in rehabilitation journals and analyzed their characteristics as a “quantitative approach to investigating the quality and evolution of rehabilitation research.” At NARIC, we took a further look at the articles and found that 21 percent of these articles were produced by researchers funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) or its predecessor institutes including the National Institute for Handicapped Research and the Social Research Service of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.

What does it mean to be “top cited”?

The goal of the APMR article was to determine which articles were read by and cited by the most researchers in the fields of disability and rehabilitation. Citations are one way researchers can gauge the reach of the reports they publish: The more times your article is cited, the more people have read it and incorporated your findings into their research. In the Shadgan et al article, the top cited article was cited more than 1,100 times since its publication in 1980.

What does it mean for NIDRR research?

The mission of NIDRR is to “generate new knowledge and promote its effective use to improve the abilities of people with disabilities to perform activities of their choice in the community, and also to expand society's capacity to provide full opportunities and accommodations for its citizens with disabilities. Toward this end, NIDRR conducts comprehensive and coordinated programs of research and related activities to maximize the full inclusion, social integration, employment and independent living of individuals of all ages with disabilities.” The ultimate goal of NIDRR’s research is to improve the lives of people with disabilities from birth through adulthood. Each publication has the potential to reach innumerable practitioners, educators, and fellow researchers. Each reader presents an opportunity to bring new treatments, technology, and interventions into practice in the clinic, classroom, or community.

Based on acknowledgements and attributions printed in each article, and NARIC’s data records, we found that 21 of the top cited articles were produced as a result of NIDRR funded research. NIDRR funds more than 250 projects each year; these projects range from individual fellowships to multi-year model systems and research and training centers. They research cutting edge treatments and interventions for all types of disability including mobility, developmental, sensory, psychiatric, and learning disabilities. They produce hundreds of articles and reports each year in an effort to disseminate the results of their research to rehabilitation professionals, educators, and consumers around the world. Each time their work is cited, it is evidence of further dissemination into the community.

Allen Heinemann, Director of the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Improving Measurement of Medical Rehabilitation Outcomes, was co-author of four articles highlighted in the APMR analysis. “I am astonished and honored to be recognized for contributions to the field of rehabilitation; I had no clue where my work placed in terms of citations. I am not surprised that NIDRR was credited with funding for 20% of the top-cited articles – this agency’s mission is to promote high quality rehabilitation research that can be translated for use by clinicians, consumers, scientists and policy makers. Not coincidentally, the majority of my work has been funded by NIDRR. NIDRR has made some good investments!”

“I should add – publishing with giants in rehabilitation outcomes (Granger, Hamilton) and measurement (Wright, Linacre) certainly didn’t hurt! I’m pleased to have had the opportunity to work with all of them.”

What does this mean for you?

You, your clients, and your family members are the beneficiaries of this research. On one hand, you paid for this research: NIDRR is a federally funded institution. These articles represent research that you funded. Each of us is invested in the success of NIDRR research. On the other hand, you or someone you know may benefit from the treatments, technology, or interventions developed by these projects. You may receive a new kind of rehabilitation following a stroke. Perhaps you purchased an adapted vehicle that incorporated new technology. Either way, this research will have touched your life in some way.

Is there more information about this?

To learn more about NIDRR research efforts, please visit the Program Directory online at If you are a researcher, sign up for the NIDRR Announcements list on that page to learn about upcoming grant and participation opportunities.

The original article, Review Article (Meta Analysis): Top-Cited Articles in Rehabilitation, is available through NARIC’s document delivery service. Ask for Document J58844.

We conducted a further analysis using Scopus from Elsevier, a similar citation database. A total of 21 NIDRR funded articles were cited more than 4,738 times by authors in major peer-reviewed journals. These articles were:

Citation Citations from Scopus Citation from ISI Web of Science (Shadigan et al)
Rappaport M, Hall KM, Hopkins K, Belleza T, Cope DN. Disability rating scale for severe head trauma: coma to community. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 1982;63:118-23. Document Number J58958 418 388
Linacre JM, Heinemann AW, Wright BD, Granger CV, Hamilton BB. The structure and stability of the Functional Independence Measure. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 1994;75:127-32. Document Number J27597 389 326
Whiteneck GG, Charlifue SW, Gerhart KA, Overholser JD, Richardson GN. Quantifying handicap: a new measure of long-term rehabilitation outcomes. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 1992;73:519-26. Document Number J22879 371 303
Fordyce WE, Fowler RS, Lehmann JF, Delateur BJ, Sand PL, Trieschmann RB. Operant conditioning in the treatment of chronic pain. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 1973;54:399-408. Document Number J58961 80 262
Granger CV, Albrecht GL, Hamilton BB. Outcome of comprehensive medical rehabilitation: measurement by PULSES profile and the Barthel index. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 1979;60:145-54. Document Number J00474 194 248
Heinemann AW, Linacre JM, Wright BD, Hamilton BB, Granger C. Relationships between impairment and physical disability as measured by the functional independence measure. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 1993;74:566-73. Document Number J25189 288 203
Ottenbacher KJ, Hsu YW, Granger CV, Fiedler RC. The reliability of the functional independence measure: a quantitative review. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 1996;77:1226-32. Document Number TBD 295 203
Freal JE, Kraft GH, Coryell JK. Symptomatic fatigue in multiple sclerosis. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 1984; 65:135-8. Document Number J48255 237 196
Jette AM, Harris BA, Cleary FP, Campion EW. Functional recovery after hip fracture. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 1987;68:735-40. Document Number TBD 168 181
Fuhrer MJ, Rintala DH, Hart KA, Clearman R, Young ME. Relationship of life satisfaction to impairment, disability, and handicap among persons with spinal cord injury living in the community. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 1992;73:552-7. Document Number J22883 208 177
Cicerone KD, Dahlberg C, Kalmar K, et al. Evidence-based cognitive rehabilitation: recommendations for clinical practice. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 2000;81:1596-615. Document Number J40840 310 174
DeVivo MJ, Krause JS, Lammertse DP. Recent trends in mortality and causes of death among persons with spinal cord injury. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 1999;80:1411-9. Document Number J37950 268 169
Granger CV, Hamilton BB, Linacre JM, Heinemann AW, Wright BD. Performance profiles of the functional independence measure. Am J Phys Med Rehabil 1993;72:84-9. Document Number TBD 214 160
DeVivo MJ, Black KJ, Stover SL. Causes of death during the first 12 years after spinal cord injury. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 1993;74:248-54. Document Number J24739 205 154
Heinemann AW, Linacre JM, Wright BD, Hamilton BB, Granger C. Prediction of rehabilitation outcomes with disability measures. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 1994;75:133-43. Document Number J27598 184 153
Jette AM. Functional Status Index: reliability of a chronic disease evaluation instrument. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 1980;61:395-401. Document Number TBD 92 150
Stineman MG, Shea JA, Jette A, et al. The Functional Independence Measure: tests of scaling assumptions, structure, and reliability across 20 diverse impairment categories. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 1996;77:1101-8. Document Number J32648 209 149
Dinsdale SM. Decubitus ulcers-role of pressure and friction in causation. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 1974;55:147-52. Document Number TBD 95 143
Sie IH, Waters RL, Adkins RH, Gellman H. Upper extremity pain in the postrehabilitation spinal cord injured patient. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 1992;73:44-8. Document Number J21934 198 145
Wainwright DJ, Hunt J, Kagan R, Herndon D. Clinical evaluation of an acellular allograft dermal matrix in full-thickness burns. J Burn Care Rehabil 1996;17:124-36. Document Number J30816 200 141
Jacobs HE. The Los Angeles Head Injury Survey: procedures and initial findings. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 1988;69:425-31. Document Number TBD 116 133

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