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Tri Bourne: From Bedridden to the Olympic Volleyball Courts


During this year's Olympic Games, you may have seen the American sand volleyball duo Jake Gibb and Tri Bourne. While their talent clearly showed, what may not have been as evident is Bourne's recent and tumultuous health journey.

Beginning in November 2016, Bourne underwent a minor ankle surgery that then seemed to set off a slew of mysterious symptoms, such as numb and tingly hands and sore finger joints.

In regard to his health at this time, Bourne's official website says, "Over the next few months things only began to get worse, and the joint pain and inflammation started spreading to the rest of his body. He was physically and mentally exhausted all the time. One workout and he wouldn’t be able to get up the rest of the day. By February/March 2017 his ankles and wrists were twice their normal size, he was unable to close his hands (they didn’t have the strength or the mobility to open jars or water bottles), his muscles were atrophying, his hips were so sore it took enormous effort to simply sit or stand, and just walking was extremely difficult."


After doing many diagnostic tests (without avail) and seeing a rheumatologist, an infectious disease specialist, a neurologist, an internal medicine specialist, a naturopath, and an allergist (just to name a few), Bourne and his family still didn't have an answer as to why this world-class athlete's body was suddenly reacting in this way.

In March, Bourne was sent by the The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee to see the specialists of the Department of Neurology's Neuromuscular Division. Our specialists decided to biopsy part of the muscle in Bourne's quad, and after taking a look at his muscle tissue, found it most closely resembled an autoimmune disease called dermatomyositis.

Bourne, finally with a diagnosis, began treatment—which, like many autoimmune diseases, requires some trial and error. After a few months of tweaking his dosage of anti-inflammatory medications, steroids, and immunoglobin therapy, Bourne was able to play in his first event in 20 months in July 2018.

We are happy to see Bourne's physical progress and incredible performance at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, and we will continue to root for him in all his future endeavors. 


No medical information has been shared in this article that Tri Bourne has not personally listed on his official website for public viewing.