Isa & Jessica's Story - No Looking Back
Last year, ESSA launched the Client of the Year Award, which encouraged professionals to nominate one of their clients who had achieved inspiring health outcomes through the prescription of exercise, for both their physical and mental health.
Although a winner was selected, there was a wide range of heartwarming finalists whose stories deserve to be shared. One of these was Isa and Jessica's story.
Over the last 30 years, ESSA has been encouraging the importance of exercise for all Australians health, including children who might just need an extra helping hand.
Meet Jessica and Isa
Jessica Bellamy is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist who has been working in the field since 2014, having also completed a Master of Research in paediatric exercise prescription. In 2020, Jessica sent through a submission for the Client of the Year Award, wanting one of her patients recognised for his absolutely epic journey with her.
Isa, an 11-year-old boy, lives with a rare form of mitochondrial disease, mitochondrial myopathy – complex III deficiency coupled with mitochondrial diabetes. This condition is a result of mutations in the genes that make up the mitochondria, meaning that aerobic metabolism is impaired. The reduced ability for energy production leads to poor exercise tolerance, significant fatigue and an inability to keep up with peers. Isa’s condition puts him at high risk of significant health consequences such as metabolic crisis requiring frequent admissions to hospital.
Due to this, Isa had not been able to engage in any type of physical activity at school or in the community, so he was initially referred to Jessica to trial an exercise program to help improve function, fatigue, exercise tolerance and quality of life. The theory behind using aerobic exercise as a treatment for mitochondrial myopathy is to increase mitochondrial density, while resistance training aims to reduce the proportion of mutant mtDNA.