Monash researcher wins top paper prize in top physiotherapy journal

Associate Professor Carol Hodgson and Claire Tipping have been awarded the Readers’ Choice Award for the world’s highest ranked physiotherapy journal, Journal of Physiotherapy.

Associate Professor Hodgson is co-deputy director of the Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Unit within Monash Public Health and Preventive Medicine, and specialist ICU Physiotherapist at The Alfred Hospital, Melbourne.

The winning paper, which was co-authored by Ms Claire Tipping from The Alfred Hospital was titled “Physiotherapy management of Intensive Care Unit-acquired weakness”.

The paper deftly summarises an enormous amount of research into clear guidance for clinicians about how to manage this common and disabling problem. The content of the paper includes: the pathophysiology and diagnosis of intensive care unit-acquired weakness; its respiratory and musculoskeletal consequences; and the burden of intensive care unit-acquired weakness on survivors of critical illness and their caregivers. However, the majority of the paper is devoted to summarising the evidence about prevention and management of the condition.

A wide range of interventions can be used to prevent and/or manage intensive care unit-acquired weakness. Key among these interventions is rehabilitation commenced within 3 days of admission to the intensive care unit, when patients are likely to still be mechanically ventilated and receiving sedation. Other interventions with emerging evidence include inspiratory muscle training during the period of mechanical ventilation, and electrical muscle stimulation. Patients can also benefit from cycle ergometry, and inspiratory muscle training after mechanical ventilation. Importantly, the paper also warns against early mobilisation of patients diagnosed with sepsis due to the evidence of its adverse effects.

The prize is determined by readers of the journal worldwide. Specifically, the downloads of each paper published in a given year are tallied for 6 months from the date of its publication. Therefore, the eagerly awaited prize for the papers published in 2017 has only just been determined. Hodgson and Tipping’s winning paper was published in the January issue of the journal, so citations were tallied until the middle of the year. Interestingly, however, the paper has not waned in popularity, being downloaded just as frequently in the second half of that year.

Social media attention about the paper has also been very robust. Twitter mentions of the paper have garnered over 10,000 impressions and the editor’s tweet about the paper had at least double the engagement rate of any other editor’s tweet in that year.

The editor of the Journal of Physiotherapy, Associate Professor Mark Elkins, says,

“It is a very impressive paper and we were thrilled to receive it. I am glad that it is getting the recognition that it deserves. This is an important area of physiotherapy practice that has seen an explosion of research in recent years. This may explain the paper’s popularity; clinical physiotherapists needed the mountain of new evidence synthesised objectively into clear implications for patient management. Carol and Claire certainly achieved that.”

The past two winning papers have also been authored by Australian physiotherapists: Dr Leanne Bisset and Professor Bill Vicenzino’s paper on tennis elbow, and Professor Lisa Harvey’s paper on spinal cord injury. This track record reflects the internationally recognised excellent standard of physiotherapy research in this country. It also hints at the broad range of conditions amenable to physiotherapy.

The authors of the paper both recognise one important aspect of the paper’s location in
Journal of Physiotherapy:

“We were thrilled to receive this award – it is a lovely recognition by the readers of the journal; especially because the journal provides its full-text papers for free. The open access allows physiotherapists and clinicians everywhere to benefit from the evidence summarised in the paper. Our goal, like all physiotherapy researchers, is to improve outcomes for our patients and we hope that access to this paper may assist with assessing and treating critically ill patients at risk of ICU acquired weakness.”

The winning paper was published in Issue 1 of volume 63 of
Journal of Physiotherapy.



Monash Public Health and Preventive Medicine is the largest research school within Monash University’s Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences. With nearly 1,200 employees, it is Asia’s largest public health research school, providing education and significant public health research. Flagship research programs include ASPirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly, the world’s largest exploration of aspirin usage in the healthy over 70s, as well as research into chronic and communicable diseases, health service delivery and more.

/Public Release.