US Olympian Amy Van Dyken Sitting Up For First Time Since Severing Spinal Cord in Accident

Olympic gold medalist Amy Van Dyken is still hospitalized in the intensive care unit at Scottsdale Osborn Medical Center following an ATV accident on Friday. The 41-year-old athlete suffered severe injuries, including a severed spinal cord.

Amy was driving an all-terrain vehicle on Friday in Show Low, about 180 miles east of Phoenix, when the accident occurred. She was airlifted to Scottsdale and underwent immediate surgery. According to an article in The Arizona Republic, the swimmer was thrown from the ATV and was unresponsive when a witness to the accident approached her. She was not wearing a helmet. Van Dyken was having trouble breathing and could not feel her legs when she regained consciousness.

Van Dyken’s husband, former NFL player Tom Rouen, told The Denver Post that his wife is in “good spirits”. Amy is in the third day of a critical period and is showing signs of improving, Rouen said.

“She is strong and has a great attitude.”

Today, Van Dyken sat up in her hospital bed for the first time since the accident and surgery. The six-time gold medalist posted two photos on Instagram on Tuesday, one a selfie of her in bed and another of her sitting up with help from two hospital workers. She wore a back brace and had a couple of scratches on her face in the photos. “Doing great today,” Van Dyken said in one post. “My room is the most decorated in ICU. Thx for ur thoughts & prayers!”

Amy Van Dyken suffered from severe asthma throughout her childhood and into adulthood. She began swimming on the advice of a doctor as a way to strengthen her lungs to cope with her condition and prevent future asthma attacks. She went on to win the 50-meter freestyle and 100 butterfly at the 1996 Olympics and also was on two winning relays, becoming the first US woman to win four golds at one Olympics. She added two more Olympic relay golds in 2000.

Van Dyken is retired from swimming and has lived in Arizona in recent years, working in local radio and later nationally for Fox Sports Radio. She swam for the University of Arizona for two years before transferring back to her home state to attend Colorado State. She is actively involved in a number of charities, including the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Amy Van Dyken was inducted into the US Olympic Committee Hall of Fame in 2008.

photo via parade.condenast.com