Project Description

Olympic Gold Medalist.

“It was just a friendly visit that turned into something. And then turned into a whole lot.” 

That’s how Amy Van Dyken-Rouen recalls the start of a life-changing process at Craig Hospital late last June as friends and family flowed in and out of her room, trying to brighten her day after an ATV accident earlier that month left her paralyzed from the waist down.

Like the other visitors, Greg Roskopf believed his desire to help would be limited to offering words of encouragement for his friend, who was facing a long, difficult fight. But, on his return visit two weeks later, everything changed. A magnetic resonance imaging scan taken after her arrival at Craig revealed that Van Dyken-Rouen’s spinal cord had not been completely severed, as originally feared. There was still a partial connection, which meant that maybe, just maybe, she would be able to move her legs again and perhaps even walk again.

“Let me just try to work on you,” Roskopf, an Englewood-based muscle function specialist, told Van Dyken-Rouen. “I know you can’t move, but I want you to just think about lifting your leg up into my hand. Picture it in your head.” Roskopf hoped visualizing a contraction would help her move her muscles. With a close friend watching, Van Dyken-Rouen did as she was told. She couldn’t see it and she certainly couldn’t feel it, but in picturing her leg contracting, her muscles responded. Her friend saw the contraction immediately and had to leave the room she became so emotional.

“They were very light contractions,” Roskopf recalled. “But I was like, ‘Whoa, she’s actually resisting me here. We have big potential now.’”

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