Injured Olympian Amy Van Dyken: Life Threatening Accident ‘Almost Like A Rebirth’

Olympic swimmer Amy Van Dyken flew to Craig Hospital Wednesday to start rehabilitation therapy for her severed spine. She was in high spirits when she arrived at the hospital, where she made her first public appearance since the June 6 accident and spoke with excitement about the “challenge” of rehabilitation.

The hospital’s Local ABC affiliate reported that she said: “This is the toughest competition I’ve ever had. The fact that I am an athlete and the fact that I’ve been working out really hard has really helped this recovery process.”

Van Dyken is no stranger to competition, either. Among her Olympic gold medals were the 50-meter freestyle, the 100-meter butterfly, and two 400-meter relay events. The local Fox affiliate added these additional comments from Van Dyken, regarding the accident and the rehabilitation process: “It’s almost like a rebirth. I get to learn how to do everything all over again, I’m anxious to do that.”

Her x-rays were also released, showing the initial injury and the surgical implants used to repair the damage:

Van Dyken X-Rays

After the release, many sources expressed amazement at the Olympic gold medalist’s consistently positive attitude in the face of such a severe injury. The Inquisitr initially reported Van Dyken severed her spinal cord at the T-11 vertebrae and that fragments of the vertebrae came very close to her aorta.

Ryan Parker at the L.A. Times reported that Amy’s positive attitude was shared by her doctors, one of whom said: “She’s not smiling because this is easy, she’s smiling because she’s Amy Van Dyken-Rouen.”

The discussion did turn serious when talk turned to the surgery, and Van Dyken’s coming to terms with the risks of such an extensive procedure.

She spoke soberly about having to say goodbye to her husband beforehand:

“[I said] please continue on with your life, I allow you to date, which was hard to say, but we said our goodbyes. To do that and then to be here now, and to be with him, is the most amazing thing.”

The surgery was successful, however, and Amy Van Dyken is looking forward now, promising to keep in touch with her fans and supporters via Instagram and Twitter as she has been.

Here are a couple updates from yesterday:

Her caption for this:

“So cool… Riding in an ambulance, which is my car for today.”

And this one:

“My amazing ambulance crew taking me to the airport.#wheelsUp”

[Images via CBS/Twitter/Instagram]