The six-time Olympic swimmer gold medalist Amy Van Dyken-Rouen suffered a spinal injury last Friday, June 6 during an ATV accident. Attending doctors said that she is already in good condition, and she even posted on Instagram a photo of herself in the ICU at Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn Medical Center sitting up for the first time since the accident.
With injury affecting her T11 (or 11 Thoracic verterbra), the 46-year-old swimmer may likely to experience lower extremity paralysis according to Dr. Zach Gordon, an orthopedic/spine surgeon at UH Case Medical Center.
A statement released by Van Dyken and Rouen families on Monday confirmed that “Amy’s spinal cord was completely severed at the T11 vertebra, but miraculously, a broken vertebra stopped within millimeters of rupturing her aorta.”
Van Dyken-Rouen and her family remain positive despite the accident and wrote the caption “Doing great today. My room is the most decorated in ICU. [Thanks] for [your] thoughts [and] prayers” on a photo she posted on Instagram.
It was reported on the AP that she was driving the ATV at a restaurant parking lot then it hit a curb, sending her “over a drop-off between 1.5 to 2 meters”. She was conscious when rescued but not wearing a helmet while driving the ATV.
Swimmer Van Dyken-Rouen won four gold medals in different categories at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, becoming the first US female athlete to win gold medals in single games. She added two more gold medals in her career when prevailed in the 400-free and 400-medley relays at the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics. After retirement, she worked in radio station in Arizona and for Fox Sports Radio. She also served as a sideline reporter for Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks teams.
Fans and friends of Van Dyken-Rouen offered her support and prayers for her speedy recovery.
Olympic champion Van Dyken-Rouen is married to former NFL punter Tom Rouen.