German chiropractor achieves PhD across the miles

September 6, 2012

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Dr Alexander Ruhe

Germany-based chiropractor Dr Alexander Ruhe had to contend with differing time zones and a full-time clinical job for four years while completing his PhD from Murdoch University remotely.

Officially graduating today (Thursday, September 6), Dr Ruhe said he chose Murdoch above a European university because of the excellent reputation of its School of Chiropractic and Sport Science and the chance to work with Dr Bruce Walker, who was one of his supervisors.

His PhD research into the effects of pain on postural stability uncovered a linear relationship between pain and sway, with sway decreasing when pain levels were decreased. Dr Ruhe said his results indicated that previous hypotheses suggesting neurological damage as a reason for increased sway might not be the whole story.

“I hope my research will help chiropractors get a better understanding of the interactions between pain and postural sway,” said Dr Ruhe.

“We have further demonstrated that these type of measures may be used as an objective monitoring tool during treatment and rehabilitation. Should future studies confirm our observations, there may be clinical applications, like in fall prevention or rehabilitation.”

Dr Ruhe said that although he wouldn’t recommend trying to attain a PhD so quickly whilst holding down a full-time job, there were many good moments along the way.

“The long hours and the resulting emotional and physical strain were hard at times but now that I’ve reached my goal they absolutely feel worth it, I’m very proud,” he said.

“The pressure was self-inflicted as I wanted to finish as soon as possible while achieving the highest quality I could. Giving up my clinical responsibilities was not an option. I’m not a fan of half-measures or compromises; the aim was to get it right or not do it at all.”

Dr Ruhe said he, Dr Walker and his other supervisor Dr René Fejer at the University of Southern Denmark, communicated well via email and Skype and that being organised around the time zones helped him to achieve his PhD.

Unfortunately Dr Ruhe will not be able to attend the graduation ceremony tonight due to other commitments.

“It’s a pity because the graduation will be a very big moment indeed for me after all the hard work myself and my supervisors have put in. However, we will still celebrate – it’ll still be a big night in Germany!”

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