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The first Doctor of Science in Physiotherapy at the Alma Mater

Alma Mater Europaea – ECM has the first PhD in Physiotherapy study program. Student Arbnore Ibrahimaj Gashi from Kosovo successfully defended her doctoral dissertation.

The doctoral dissertation, entitled The Effect of Manual Therapy and Therapeutic Exercise on Patients with Chronic Neck Pain to Improve Function, Activity, and Participation Level in Accordance with the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health, was created under the supervision of Professor Dr Tine Kovačič and co-mentor Professor Dr Tadeja Hernja Rumpf.

The doctoral student researched chronic neck pain, which is a globally significant health problem, as it leads to disability and limitations in daily activities.


Chronic neck pain is a significant health issue globally, leading to disability and limitations in daily activities. In Kosovo, a randomized controlled trial (RCT) was conducted at a private physiotherapy clinic involving 111 patients (56 in the study group, 55 in the control group). The study group received a novel multimodal physiotherapy program incorporating thermotherapy, TENS, dynamic exercises, deep tissue massage, and passive stretching. In contrast, the control group received conventional treatments. All patients underwent 10 therapy sessions, and various standardized physiotherapy assessment tools were used to evaluate treatment effectiveness. SPSS analysis showed statistically significant improvements in functional tests among younger participants in the study group, including NDI, MQOL, NPRS, PSFS, AROM, and DNFET. Mann-Whitney U test revealed significant differences between the control and study groups. Regression analysis indicated that physical well-being and existential subscale were significant predictors of quality of life post-treatment. This RCT provides valuable insights for physiotherapists, doctors, and researchers in Kosovo, offering a new approach to managing chronic neck pain and improving patient well-being.

"I sincerely congratulate the first doctoral student in physiotherapy at Alma Mater Europaea - ECM. It is a remarkable achievement for our student, who has shown dedication, hard work, and excellent academic skills. It shines a light on the physiotherapy community in Kosovo and elsewhere. It is an honor for me to have been the supervisor of this doctoral dissertation, and I look forward to further success and progress in the work of the doctoral student in the field of physiotherapy," said the supervisor of the doctoral dissertation, Dr Tine Kovačič.