Jurnee Tipton, a former Father Gabriel Richard star volleyball player who now plays at Howard University in Washington D.C., faces months of rehabilitation after undergoing successful knee surgery Dec. 29.
The Bison freshman is expected to be in a brace and on crutches until mid-February, but should be ready to play when Howard’s 2018 volleyball season cranks up in August.
“They’re going to ease me into playing, and they say I’ll be ready to fully play by the tail end of the summer,” said Tipton, who earned a 3.67 grade-point average in her first semester at Howard. “I started doing physical-therapy exercises at home right away, and I can feel it getting stronger already.”
Tipton hoped Dr. Asheesh Bedi, who performed the operation at the East Ann Arbor Surgery Center, would be able to simply trim off a piece of her left meniscus to solve her problem. She hoped this would repair a tear she first suffered in her junior year at Father Gabriel Richard and had been playing with ever since.
Had Dr. Bedi been able to trim the meniscus, it would have resulted in a 6-8 week recuperation. However, arthritis was found in the knee and the damage was too severe to solve by trimming the meniscus, so it was stitched together – resulting in a projected 6-month recovery.
“Obviously, it wasn’t the option we were hoping for, and initially I wasn’t too happy,” said Tipton, an outside hitter at Howard. “But I’m not in any pain, and I’m optimistic now. They say everything went well and there’s no reason to think I won’t make a full recovery.
“It’s just going to take some time.”
Tipton, who was a three-time All-State selection at Father Gabriel Richard, recently returned to Howard, and is lining up physical therapy sessions at the training facilities at Burr Gymnasium.
“There will be various exercises I’ll be doing once I get out of the brace, and then as time goes on, there will be volleyball drills,” Tipton said. “Then I can start by hitting the ball around, but still staying on the ground. And then I can start jumping.
“It all depends upon my progress.”
Bison Coach Shaun Kupferberg contacted Tipton while she was at home immediately after the surgery, and while he expressed concern that she would be out of action so long, “he realized that the option we took would be better in the long run,” according to Tipton.
“When he called to check on me, he said he wished I could come back sooner, but he was happy that I was going to get better,” she said.
Tipton won’t be able to participate in winter practices as she returns for her second semester and concentrates on her studies and her own personal recovery, but that doesn’t mean she won’t be around the team.
“Oh, there are things I can do to help,” she said. “I can toss the ball around, I can be in the training room. I’d miss it too much if I wasn’t able to be around the team at all. I’ll be there.
“And, I’ll also be working on recovering, and getting ready to play next season.”