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Winning pitch on poi for health

10 November 2016

Winning pitch on poi for health


A doctoral student in Dance Studies at the University of Auckland has been announced the overall winner of the annual 3-minute thesis competition run by Universitas 21, a consortium of international universities.

The competition challenges PhD students across the globe to explain their doctoral thesis in a three-minute presentation to a non-specialist audience, testing their communication, clarity and conciseness.

Having already won the University’s own 3-minute thesis competition, Kate Riegle van West was matched against the winners from the other members of the international consortium to virtually share her thesis, “Poi for your health: A spin on ageing” with an expert judging panel for the final round.

Kate’s study is the first to measure the effects of international poi (International poi is an overarching term which refers to poi practised outside of Māoridom) on physical and cognitive function in healthy older adults.

Kate has been a circus performer and noticed that the physical action of twirling a poi seemed to be beneficial, so she decided to conduct a randomised controlled trial with healthy adults over 60 to measure the effects of poi on physical and cognitive function.

Participants in her study were randomly allocated to either the poi group or a comparison group and after only a month of training, those in the poi group showed trends in improvement in their upper limb range of motion, grip strength and manual dexterity.

“Keeping these parts of the body fit can be the difference between independence and a nursing home,” she told the judges.

"This is because loss of flexibility in the upper limb can make it hard to get dressed or reach for objects; loss of dexterity and strength in your hand makes it hard to carry bags or hold on to a railing, which in turn can leave you more prone to a serious fall.”

Participants also reported improved focus, concentration and a clearer mind after poi practice.


ends


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