Olympic Swimmer in Spinal Accident

Six-time Olympic gold medalist and swimmer, Amy Van Dyken-Rouen, suffered a spinal cord injury in an ATV accident on June 6, 2014 near Show Low, Arizona. The 41-year-old swimming champion had been riding an ATV on the way home from dinner in front of her husband who was on a motorcycle. While driving the ATV, Van Dyken-Rouen hit the curb for unknown reasons according to the report. The ATV then went over an embankment, seriously injuring her in the process.

According to reports after the crash, Van Dyken-Rouen’s spine was severed and her husband found her unconscious and not breathing after the impact. She reportedly told emergency responders that she was unable to feel her legs when they arrived after the accident, but it is unclear whether she was paralyzed. She was taken by helicopter to the Scottsdale Osborn Medical Center where she underwent surgery.

A letter released by the family said that the swimming champion’s spinal cord was completely severed at the T11 vertebrae in the accident and was pushed into her body, but miraculously stopped just short of hitting her aorta. It was later revealed that had the aorta been nicked, she most likely would have bled to death very quickly. The letter also praised Van Dyken-Rouen for her “strength and determination,” but said that she had a “long, trying road” of recovery ahead of her. They seem hopeful of her full recovery and Van Dyken-Rouen vows to walk again. She is currently starting her rehabilitation at Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colorado. Reports indicate that Van Dyken-Rouen will continue to recover at Craig Hospital over the next few months.

Dyken-Rouen Faces an Uphill Battle during Rehabilitation

It will be an uphill battle for Van Dyken-Rouen in the months to come, as she works on rehabilitating herself. Spinal cord injuries are one of the most devastating types of injuries to experience, especially in cases where the spine is totally severed. Often these injuries can require multiple surgeries, months of rehabilitative therapy, and even potentially lifelong complications.