On September 4, 2004, Caren and Jason Sydnor had their first baby boy, Wesley. But due to complications experienced after the birth, Caren would be readmitted to the hospital just four days later, separated from her new family.
A few days after that she was paralyzed from the waist down.
But during her acute-care hospital stay, friends and family told the Delaware resident that her best chance of making a recovery would occur at Magee Rehabilitation Hospital, so she headed up route 95 North to Philadelphia.
While an inpatient in the Magee Spinal Cord Injury Program, Caren used an innovative piece of rehabilitation equipment — the body weight support training system, often referred to as "locomotor training." Using a harness, Caren was suspended over a treadmill. A team of therapists would then position and maneuver her legs and body — creating a walking motion — that she would hopefully be able to recreate in everyday life.
Towards the end of her inpatient stay at Magee, Caren was using locomotor training three times a week and making progress. However, Caren returned home using a wheelchair. Inspired on by the progress she was making and the encouragement of her family, friends, and therapists, Caren and Jason made that long drive to Magee — five days a week, for months — for outpatient therapy including locomotor training.
And her work and determination were rewarded.
Today, Caren is able to walk with the assistance of 2 canes outdoors and sometimes without them within her home. She also says she is experiencing the day-to-day joys of motherhood with greater ease. "I'm getting faster and stronger everyday." Said Caren. And since she no longer relies on her wheelchair, she and Wesley explore the world, and their home, together.
"We went to a Blue Rocks baseball game not long ago, and we had really great seats right on the field, behind home plate," said Caren. "And I was able to walk down the steps of the stadium to get there. We wouldn't have been able to enjoy those great seats if I hadn't gotten to this point. And Although I still cannot care for Wesley completely without my wheelchair, I can do a lot more without it than I could before. I can give Wesley baths in the regular tub completely on my own, and getting down on the floor to play with him is much easier. And when we put a fence around our yard, Wesley and I will be able to play out there on our own."
Caren now attends college fulltime, while continuing her fulltime active role as mother and wife.