Bellator vet Cristopher Lencioni on Sunday took his first steps with the help of physical therapists, his wife Marca Lencioni told MMA Fighting.
Lencioni, 28, is also showing improved cognitive function, laughing at jokes and attempting to speak despite a tracheostomy that requires a valve to speak, the fighter’s wife added.
“He’s making progress really fast,” Marca Lencioni said. “It’s sheer will and determination.”
Cris Lencioni took his first steps on Sunday since being hospitalized and suffering brain damage as the result of the heart attack on June 8.— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) July 4, 2023
The latest on Lencioni from @MMAFightingSM https://t.co/TyeGcNEByL pic.twitter.com/fx39QPvwla
Cristopher Lencioni suffered a heart attack on June 8 while training for a fight at Bellator 298. Doctors found brain damage as the result of lack of oxygen to his brain and left open the question of a return to normal, advising he be sent to a long-term acute care hospital in Idaho.
After seeing Lencioni’s quick progress, Marca Lencioni said doctors have backed away from that plan, she said. They now plan to install an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator to insure against any future heart issues, she said.
Doctors suspect Lencioni may suffer from Long QT Syndrome, a potentially deadly heart rhythm disorder, that allegedly wasn’t flagged until his health scare.
A GoFundMe set up for Lencioni has raised approximately $60,000 for Lencioni’s medical bills, which his wife said are in excess of $300,000. Several MMA vets have posted messages in support of the young fighter from Portland, Ore.
Marca Lencioni still hopes to secure alternative treatments such as stem cells for her husband. But she noted the improvement in care as he performed better than expected in rehabilitation.
“He’s still got a while until he’s ready to leave, and we are still looking into alternative treatment options,” she said. “They dropped the [long-term acute care hospital] center after seeing how quickly he was progressing. But it was the same with the defibrillator. At one point they weren’t going to do that for him, because they weren’t sure of where he was cognitively. But he’s young, and he’s doing really well now, so the tune has changed.”