Horak paper is on ‘most cited’ list for prestigious journal

OHSU neurology professor Fay Horak has recently won a prestigious honor — for something she did almost three decades ago.

In recognition of its 125th birthday, the American Physiological Society identified the most highly cited articles published in its Journal of Neurophysiology since 1900.

The society separated its list into the top 10 articles for 1900-1924, 1925-1949, and each of the last six decades. An article that Horak co-authored in 1986 — her first published paper as a post-doctoral fellow — made the journal’s top ten list for 1980-1989.

The article’s topic was in an area that Horak has built a world-renowned career on — how the brain controls human balance. The article, written with co-author Lew Nashner, showed how people balance themselves when they walk by using one of two strategies (ankle strategy or hip strategy) or a combination of the two. Horak’s study also showed that the strategies were not reflexes but learned with practice.

“Our finding of stereotypical balancing strategies has been extremely useful for clinicians as well as game changing for understanding how the brain controls balance,” Horak said.

Horak co-authored the article when she was with the Neurological Sciences Institute of  Good Samaritan Hospital and Medical Center. She joined OHSU in 1999.

Horak’s lab is considered the world leader in studying how the brain controls balance, and she is known internationally with more than 200 publications and numerous awards.

Her lab has developed methods for clinicians to test balance in Parkinson’s disease as well as physical therapy techniques and exercise programs to treat or prevent balance and walking problems. She has studied Parkinson’s disease for more than 25 years, much of it in collaboration with the OHSU Parkinson Center of Oregon.

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