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University of Otago School of Physiotherapy graduate Lizhou Liu is the recipient of the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation’s Belinda Scott Clinical Fellowship for 2017.
Miss Liu (29), from Chengdu in China, would use the funds to run a t’ai chi exercise programme for a year at Dunedin Hospital from March.
"My hope is that this study will be of real help to Kiwi women."
T’ai chi is a Chinese martial art practised for self-defence training and health benefits.
The aim of the research was to determine how a larger randomised trial of t’ai chi for breast cancer patients might work, including understanding how acceptable the exercise was to patients, defining clinical measures of effectiveness, and discerning whether t’ai chi had any negative effects.
International research revealed t’ai chi improved wellbeing and physical health of breast cancer survivors.
However, researchers had not studied t’ai chi used during active treatment to improve tolerability of drugs and other treatments, she said.
There had been no New Zealand-based studies of t’ai chi in cancer patients or survivors, she said.
"I see this project as a chance to look at how we can add a complementary therapy into conventional breast cancer treatment in New Zealand."
Foundation chief executive Evangelia Henderson said the programme was "tremendously practical" and was potentially applicable to many patients.
The "exciting proposal" had a strong focus on practical support for women going through tough treatments for breast cancer, Mrs Henderson said.
"T’ai chi is potentially an effective and affordable exercise programme that could be used by a wide range of patients to mitigate the side-effects of treatment. "