Healthcare worker masters martial arts to conquer epilepsy

Matteo Iadonisi Image
Monday, May 16, 2022
Healthcare worker masters martial arts to conquer epilepsy
This EMT doubles as a black belt to help keep her epilepsy at bay. She is now two years seizure-free!

BENSALEM, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- "With epilepsy, stress can cause a seizure," said Jessie Lentz. "And with martial arts, I am stress-free."

Lentz, an emergency medical technician, has a complicated history of strokes, seizures, and surgeries. But the battle didn't begin until she was in her 20s.

"I started working at Jefferson in 2005. I was diagnosed with epilepsy soon after," she said. "I was stressing out about work, not wanting to seize again. I needed to find an outlet."

Luckily, a friend recommended her to Achievement Unlocked Martial Arts in Bensalem. There, Jessie worked her way up the ranks. But she faced more than a test of body, mind, and spirit when reaching for her black belt.

"In 2016, I had a massive stroke that was the size of my fist," she said. "Due to martial arts, I didn't need much rehab at all."

Lentz chose to continue pursuing martial arts after she made a recovery and eventually earned both a first and second-degree black belt.

Her instructor, Alison Barretta, was amazed by her.

"Most people would have just quit. Jessie does not give up," she said. "And it's an honor to be able to work with someone that's so determined and does not want to let anything stand in her way of getting what she wants."

In the late 2010s, Lentz underwent a series of surgeries and has been seizure free since October of 2019. And she has big plans for the future.

"Right now, I'm looking forward to testing for my third-degree black belt to prove that I can do it with my medical history," she said. "Because hey, if I can do it, you can do it."

To learn more about Thomas Jefferson University Hospital or Achievement Unlocked Martial Arts, visit their websites.

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