Van Dyken-Rouen walks with special equipment

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- Amy Van Dyken-Rouen, who was left paralyzed below the waist in an all-terrain vehicle crash on June 6 in Arizona, posted a video Thursday of her walking with help from some special equipment.

"It's an exoskeleton," Van Dyken-Rouen explained to 3TV's Scott Pasmore and Kaley O'Kelley Friday morning. "It's a new one that they're hoping to get FDA approval on. It's called Indego, and I had an opportunity to try it out to basically train the people who are going to be doing the FDA study."

Last month, Van Dyken-Rouen posted a video in which she moved her hip flexors. It's those muscles that allowed her to walk with the 26-pound Indego.

"I stood up for the first time, and I was like, 'Oh my gosh! I forgot how tall I am!'" she continued. "I may not ever walk by myself, but I can walk."

She has been working on walking with a walk in the swimming pool.

Since her accident more than two months ago, Van Dyken-Rouen has maintained an extremely postive and hopeful attitude.

She said accepting what happened to her and focusing on her life and what she can do has been essential. She also said more research on spinal cord injuries is needed.

"Who knows? There could be a cure in my lifetime. I would like to say that there will be," she said.

Mobile users click here to view the Instagram video of Van Dyken-Rouen walking with the Indego.






Van Dyken-Rouen heading home '1,000 times better'
Pat Graham, AP Sports Writer

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) -- Olympic swimmer Amy Van Dyken-Rouen rolled through the hospital doors in her sleek-looking purple wheelchair, her familiar smile on her face and her bubbly personality ready to be unleashed.

Just two months ago, she was guided through those same doors on a stretcher after being brought in by an ambulance- not knowing what to expect or how much progress she would make after a spinal cord injury.

The self-described "wheelie queen" has come a long way since then, feeling "1,000 times better" after her rehabilitation time at Craig Hospital.

"I feel so much more empowered," Van Dyken-Rouen said Thursday as she left the hospital.

While at the facility, the six-time Olympic gold medalist learned how to drive with hand controls, dress herself and pick up things off the floor. She also went boating, climbed into a kayak and visited the zoo.

All part of the recovery for Van Dyken-Rouen, who was left paralyzed below the waist in an all-terrain vehicle crash on June 6 in Arizona. She's ready to return home to Arizona, but will remain in Colorado until September.

Her immediate plans include visits with friends, some sailing and more rehab.

Oh, and a word of caution for anyone who's thinking about knocking on her door - don't.

"I'm going to relax," she said. "I'm going to go somewhere where I don't hear, `How are your vitals?' `How's your pain?' `Are you sleeping?'

"I'm going to go somewhere where if someone knocks on my door I'm going to scream."

The toughest thing about her therapy actually should've been the easiest - the swimming pool. Being in the pool for therapy sessions brought back many memories for Van Dyken-Rouen.

"I went in there as a spinal cord-injured individual. Supposed to be doing therapy," Van Dyken-Rouen said. "But I'm not doing therapy. I'm swimming laps. They looked at me like, `This is not what we're doing.'

"It was the pool. I'm there to do my work. I'm there to win another gold medal. But there's other things I need to take care of first - I just had a traumatic injury."

Throughout her ordeal, Van Dyken-Rouen has remained upbeat, even letting the world peek into her experiences via social media. She posted all the time, too, things like:

- "What a day.. Went swimming, then rode the hand bike for a while. I've done a duathalon today. Is that a Paralympic sport? Lol (hash)Imkidding."

- "Did a "high kneel" with a Swiss ball. So hard, but I'm so proud of myself! (hash)bigStep."

- "Who has two thumbs and gets to learn how to drive today?! Yup.. THIS GIRL! I feel like I'm 15 again. (hash)cantWait (hash)zoomzoom."

- "Swimmin'. Felt good to be "normal" for a while. (hash)fish (hash)swimChick."

"There have been a lot of tears shed, for sure. This is not easy," Van Dyken-Rouen said. "I don't want to portray the fact that because I had a smile on my face that it really is easy. It's really not. It's life changing."

She said the most difficult part about Thursday was saying farewell to the staff and her fellow patients. She's now one of 30,000 graduates of Craig Hospital.

"I've had some amazing people here," Van Dyken-Rouen said. "They've really taught me a lot about the world."

Once she returns to Arizona, her first stop is to get her driver's license.

"I have been driving on the streets of Denver - safely," she said. "So, you're all OK. I'm going to feel like a free bird."

Her husband, former Denver Broncos punter Tom Rouen, has been constantly by her side and said she's "never let down through this whole thing."

"It's been amazing to watch her," Tom Rouen said. "I'm excited for everything she's going to do in the future."

For now, that's raising awareness of spinal cord injuries.

And wheelies. Lots and lots of wheelies in her wheelchair.

"I can wheelie everywhere," Van Dyken-Rouen said. "It's my favorite thing to do."

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. 


Van Dyken-Rouen is active on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and has posted several times from the hospital. She said she plans to keep doing that as she goes through rehab.