Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

A bibliometric analysis of global research on spinal cord injury: 1999–2019


Study design

Bibliometric review.


The spatial structure of the global spinal cord injury (SCI) research field has not been summarized or analyzed. The objective of this study was to understand the current status and global trends of SCI research, and provide scholars knowledge to integrate into their plans for future research.


Not applicable.


The Web of Science database was searched for articles related to SCI published between 1999 and 2019. Metrics based on publication data, including publication counts, H indices, countries, institutions, authors, and journals were extracted. Co-citation analysis, collaboration analysis, and co-occurrence analysis of keywords were conducted using CiteSpace.


The search identified a total of 41,012 articles related to SCI. Overall, the number of publications increased annually. The United States was the top ranked country by publication count, H index, and citation count. Harvard University and the University of Toronto made the most contributions. M.G. Fehlings was the top ranked author. Spinal Cord published the largest number of articles, and was the most frequently cited journal. The top 5 ranked keywords that appeared most frequently were spinal cord injury, functional recovery, adult rat rehabilitation, and paraplegia. Twelve major clusters of keywords and 15 clusters of co-cited references were generated.


This study comprehensively analyzed and summarized the trends in SCI research during the past 20 years. Findings should provide scholars information on the countries, institutions, authors, and journals that are active in the field of SCI research, and a knowledge base for future projects.

This is a preview of subscription content

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3


  1. Kumar R, Lim J, Mekary RA, Rattani A, Dewan MC, Sharif SY, et al. Traumatic spinal injury: global epidemiology and worldwide volume. World Neurosurg. 2018;113:e345–63.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Jazayeri SB, Beygi S, Shokraneh F, Hagen EM, Rahimi-Movaghar V. Incidence of traumatic spinal cord injury worldwide: a systematic review. Eur Spine J. 2015;24:905–18.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Merritt CH, Taylor MA, Yelton CJ, Ray SK. Economic impact of traumatic spinal cord injuries in the United States. Neuroimmunol Neuroinflamm. 2019;6:9.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  4. DeVivo MJ, Chen Y, Mennemeyer ST, Deutsch A. Costs of care following spinal cord injury. Top Spinal Cord Inj Rehabil. 2011;16:1–9.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Strickland ER, Hook MA, Balaraman S, Huie JR, Grau JW, Miranda RC. MicroRNA dysregulation following spinal cord contusion: implications for neural plasticity and repair. Neuroscience. 2011;186:146–60.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Veneruso V, Rossi F, Villella A, Bena A, Forloni G, Veglianese P. Stem cell paracrine effect and delivery strategies for spinal cord injury regeneration. J Controlled Release. 2019;300:141–53.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Connelly TM, Devane L, Kelly JC, Wrafter P, Messaris E. The 100 classic papers in ulcerative colitis: a bibliometric analysis. Expert Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2016;10:1187–95.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. O’Connor EM, Nason GJ, O’Brien MF. Ireland’s contribution to urology and nephrology research in the new millennium: a bibliometric analysis. Ir J Med Sci. 2017;186:371–7.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Ponce FA, Lozano AM. Highly cited works in neurosurgery. Part I: the 100 top-cited papers in neurosurgical journals. J Neurosurg. 2010;112:223–32.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Chen C, Hu Z, Liu S, Tseng H. Emerging trends in regenerative medicine: a scientometric analysis in CiteSpace. Expert Opin Biol Ther. 2012;12:593–608.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Bastian S, Ippolito JA, Lopez SA, Eloy JA, Beebe KS. The use of the h-Index in academic orthopaedic surgery. J Bone Jt Surg Am. 2017;99:e14.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Kigerl KA, Gensel JC, Ankeny DP, Alexander JK, Donnelly DJ, Popovich PG. Identification of two distinct macrophage subsets with divergent effects causing either neurotoxicity or regeneration in the injured mouse spinal cord. J Neurosci. 2009;29:13435–44.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Donnelly DJ, Popovich PG. Inflammation and its role in neuroprotection, axonal regeneration and functional recovery after spinal cord injury. Exp Neurol. 2008;209:378–88.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. David S, Kroner A. Repertoire of microglial and macrophage responses after spinal cord injury. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2011;12:388–99.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Beck KD, Nguyen HX, Galvan MD, Salazar DL, Woodruff TM, Anderson AJ. Quantitative analysis of cellular inflammation after traumatic spinal cord injury: evidence for a multiphasic inflammatory response in the acute to chronic environment. Brain. 2010;133:433–47.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Fleming JC, Norenberg MD, Ramsay DA, Dekaban GA, Marcillo AE, Saenz AD, et al. The cellular inflammatory response in human spinal cords after injury. Brain. 2006;129:3249–69.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Basso DM, Fisher LC, Anderson AJ, Jakeman LB, McTigue DM, Popovich PG. Basso Mouse Scale for locomotion detects differences in recovery after spinal cord injury in five common mouse strains. J Neurotrauma. 2006;23:635–59.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Keirstead HS, Nistor G, Bernal G, Totoiu M, Cloutier F, Sharp K, et al. Human embryonic stem cell-derived oligodendrocyte progenitor cell transplants remyelinate and restore locomotion after spinal cord injury. J Neurosci. 2005;25:4694–705.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Scheff SW, Rabchevsky AG, Fugaccia I, Main JA, Lumpp JE Jr. Experimental modeling of spinal cord injury: characterization of a force-defined injury device. J Neurotrauma. 2003;20:179–93.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Thuret S, Moon LD, Gage FH. Therapeutic interventions after spinal cord injury. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2006;7:628–43.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Lu P, Wang Y, Graham L, McHale K, Gao M, Wu D, et al. Long-distance growth and connectivity of neural stem cells after severe spinal cord injury. Cell. 2012;150:1264–73.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Karimi-Abdolrezaee S, Eftekharpour E, Wang J, Morshead CM, Fehlings MG. Delayed transplantation of adult neural precursor cells promotes remyelination and functional neurological recovery after spinal cord injury. J Neurosci. 2006;26:3377–89.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Cummings BJ, Uchida N, Tamaki SJ, Salazar DL, Hooshmand M, Summers R, et al. Human neural stem cells differentiate and promote locomotor recovery in spinal cord-injured mice. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2005;102:14069–74.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Bradbury EJ, Moon LD, Popat RJ, King VR, Bennett GS, Patel PN, et al. Chondroitinase ABC promotes functional recovery after spinal cord injury. Nature. 2002;416:636–40.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Garcia-Alias G, Barkhuysen S, Buckle M, Fawcett JW. Chondroitinase ABC treatment opens a window of opportunity for task-specific rehabilitation. Nat Neurosci. 2009;12:1145–51.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Bareyre FM, Kerschensteiner M, Raineteau O, Mettenleiter TC, Weinmann O, Schwab ME. The injured spinal cord spontaneously forms a new intraspinal circuit in adult rats. Nat Neurosci. 2004;7:269–77.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Fitch MT, Silver J. CNS injury, glial scars, and inflammation: Inhibitory extracellular matrices and regeneration failure. Exp Neurol. 2008;209:294–301.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Sofroniew MV. Molecular dissection of reactive astrogliosis and glial scar formation. Trends Neurosci. 2009;32:638–47.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Faulkner JR, Herrmann JE, Woo MJ, Tansey KE, Doan NB, Sofroniew MV. Reactive astrocytes protect tissue and preserve function after spinal cord injury. J Neurosci. 2004;24:2143–55.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Dobkin B, Apple D, Barbeau H, Basso M, Behrman A, Deforge D, et al. Weight-supported treadmill vs over-ground training for walking after acute incomplete SCI. Neurology. 2006;66:484–93.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  31. van Hedel HJ, Wirz M, Dietz V. Assessing walking ability in subjects with spinal cord injury: validity and reliability of 3 walking tests. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2005;86:190–6.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Hochberg LR, Bacher D, Jarosiewicz B, Masse NY, Simeral JD, Vogel J, et al. Reach and grasp by people with tetraplegia using a neurally controlled robotic arm. Nature. 2012;485:372–5.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  33. van den Brand R, Heutschi J, Barraud Q, DiGiovanna J, Bartholdi K, Huerlimann M, et al. Restoring voluntary control of locomotion after paralyzing spinal cord injury. Science. 2012;336:1182–5.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Ramon-Cueto A, Cordero MI, Santos-Benito FF, Avila J. Functional recovery of paraplegic rats and motor axon regeneration in their spinal cords by olfactory ensheathing glia. Neuron. 2000;25:425–35.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Ramon-Cueto A, Plant GW, Avila J, Bunge MB. Long-distance axonal regeneration in the transected adult rat spinal cord is promoted by olfactory ensheathing glia transplants. J Neurosci. 1998;18:3803–15.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Wang KC, Koprivica V, Kim JA, Sivasankaran R, Guo Y, Neve RL, et al. Oligodendrocyte-myelin glycoprotein is a Nogo receptor ligand that inhibits neurite outgrowth. Nature. 2002;417:941–4.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  37. GrandPre T, Li S, Strittmatter SM. Nogo-66 receptor antagonist peptide promotes axonal regeneration. Nature. 2002;417:547–51.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


This program is supported by Scientific and Technological Planning Project of Jilin Province (20200404187YY).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



YL designed the study; BW and YZ performed data collection; YZ and HF analyzed the data and performed the statistical analysis. HF and YL drafted the initial manuscript. HW critically reviewed and revised the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Han Wu.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Additional information

Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplementary information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Li, Y., Wei, B., Zhong, Y. et al. A bibliometric analysis of global research on spinal cord injury: 1999–2019. Spinal Cord 60, 281–287 (2022).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


Quick links