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Carol Suchy: ABLE to get her life back

  • Carol Suchy in the ABLE programOn February 3, 2014, Carol Suchy took off for what she thought would be a short snowmobile ride with friends. As she drove through the winding, wooded trail, she took several sharp turns. As she tried to brake, her snowmobile started to flip. She lost her grip, rolled off her sled and into a tree. 

    Suchy was airlifted to a Duluth hospital for emergency surgery. The accident left her with incomplete paraplegia, paralyzed from about the waist down. “Before I was even out of surgery, my family and friends were already making plans to have me transferred to Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute at Abbott Northwestern Hospital,” she said. Ten days later she started her inpatient rehabilitation.

    Suchy’s family includes her husband Bill, daughter Sydney, 13, and son Logan, 11. Her active life also includes work as a project manager with US Bank, and she is a national four-wheel drive truck pull champion and competitor for 21 years.

    “It wasn’t easy, but I did my best to remain positive and work hard. I knew that was the only way I would return home to my family the quickest,” she said.

    During her inpatient rehabilitation, Suchy learned about Activity-Based Locomotor Exercise (ABLE) at the Golden Valley location. “My husband Bill and I did research and felt that ABLE would give me the best chance to walk again. It focuses on strengthening your whole body and getting your legs moving. We both agreed that it was meant for me.”

    Suchy applied for the program in April and was number 11 on the waiting list at the time of her discharge from inpatient care. While she waited for the call from ABLE, Suchy did outpatient physical and occupational therapy and pool therapy at Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute – St Croix. Fitness staff there helped her develop a strengthening regimen she could do at her local community center. She also got back behind the wheel, learning to drive a van with hand controls. 

    Suchy returned part-time to her job as a project manager with US Bank. Then, in January 2015, she got the call she was waiting for: Suchy learned she could begin working with ABLE. 

    “I’m excited to attend ABLE sessions. I hate the thought of them ever ending,” she said. “But, I also have empathy for those folks who are on the waiting list for ABLE. I know what it feels like to be that person.”

    At her first 90-day evaluation Suchy’s core strength had improved significantly and she was beginning to have more movement in her legs. “I am ecstatic over the progress I made during my first year. ABLE has given my life back to me,” said Suchy.