Carly D Looking forward to helping plan her college's Dance Marathon

carly at children's hosptial

After finishing freshman year at college, Carly Decker went on the trip of a lifetime with her family to Iceland. They had an amazing time visiting volcanoes, geysers, hot springs and lava fields, but when Carly returned to the United States she became ill with a high fever and lost feeling in her legs. Initially, unable to determine the cause of her weakness, doctors eventually determined that Carly was suffering severe weakness resulting from a severe B12 deficiency with nitric oxide exposure from the volcanic hot springs in Iceland, leaving Carly unable to feel below the waist, possibly forever.

After two weeks in an acute care hospital, Carly came to PSE&G Children’s Specialized Hospital in New Brunswick for rehabilitation. Upon arrival, she was unable to walk or sit up on her own. But, with six weeks of intense rehabilitative therapy, Carly regained strength and learned to walk again with the use a walker and braces. Anxious to get back to college, Carly returned to school Fall of 2019. Unfortunately, the stress of school, the onset of a fever and major throat infection resulted in a setback.

Scared and frustrated, Carly returned home where she went to her doctors and received the diagnosis of Functional Movement Disorder, a disorder affecting the way signals are sent throughout the brain. In an attempt to protect itself from further damage, Carly’s body ultimately shut itself down, causing her to lose all her progress she had made. She could not move her legs and her left arm or lift up her own head. Carly returned to CSH where her doctors and therapists were able to structure a comprehensive program of cognitive, psychological and physical/occupational therapies to help Carly learn to move and walk again even though she still cannot feel her lower half. Carly recalls working really hard during her therapies, but she says the environment was always positive and motivating and she remembers all the wonderful friends she made.

She loved spending time with Children’s Specialized Hospital’s therapy dog, Burton, who always made her smile after a hard day of therapy. “While I was at Children’s Specialized, it felt like home. Everyone was so kind and helpful and always pushed me to my maximum potential because they knew I could do more than I thought I was capable of,” said Carly. After almost a 2 month stay at CSH, Carly left the hospital walking on her own with just a brace for the first time in a year and a half.

Carly is looking forward to returning to college in the fall and getting her life back on track after two years of turmoil. She’s especially looking forward to helping plan her school's Dance Marathon benefitting Children’s Specialized Hospital. “Children’s Specialized Hospital gave me my life back,” said Carly. “The doctors, nurses and therapists challenged and encouraged me every step of the way, they didn’t let me give up! I will forever be indebted to the staff at Children’s Specialized!”