Pickleball’s Surge In Popularity Comes With A Hidden Risk: Injuries Among Seniors

The global sensation that is pickleball is especially well-liked by senior citizens. On the other hand, pickleball-related injuries have significantly increased as a result of this boom in involvement. Safety considerations are crucial to ensuring that pickleball is a fun and health-promoting activity for everyone, from warm-ups to appropriate footwear.
Pickleball is growing massively in the US

Pickleball is growing massively in the US

Photo : X/USAPickleball
Pickleball, a beloved sport blending tennis, badminton, and ping pong, has seen a rapid increase in popularity. Nevertheless, with an increasing number of seniors playing on the courts, there has been a worrisome rise in injuries among elderly participants.
A recent analysis presented at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons meeting in San Francisco revealed a 90-fold increase in pickleball-related bone fractures in the past 20 years, mainly affecting adults aged 60 to 69.
"Despite its reputation as a low-impact sport, pickleball can pose serious risk for players, especially if they have weaker bones from osteoporosis," researcher Dr. Kurt Spindler, an orthopaedic surgeon at Cleveland Clinic in Florida, stated in a meeting news release. "It's important to understand your risk profile of injury and to speak with your physician to see how you can lower your risk."
Pickleball is similar to tennis and is played on a court the size of a badminton court using a plastic ball with holes and wooden paddles. According to USA Pickleball, the sport's player count has grown from 4.8 million in 2021 to 8.9 million in 2023, making it the country's fastest-growing sport.
Significantly, the new examination focused solely on fractures, excluding other common injuries such as sprained ankles or ACL damage. NBC News stated that additional frequent pickleball injuries consist of rotator cuff injuries, exacerbation of arthritis, and Achilles tendon tears/strains.
What was the main reason for the majority of fractures observed in the study? Researchers report that the vast majority, 92 per cent, happened as a result of falling.
"While pickleball is a great sport, nothing comes without risk," study lead author Yasmine Ghattas, a student at the University of Central Florida's College of Medicine in Orlando, told NBC News.
In the research, scientists utilized the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, containing injury data from 100 U.S. emergency departments.
Ghattas and her team identified 377 instances of pickleball-related fractures in the database from 2002 to 2022. NBC News reported that when applied to the entire U.S. population, this equated to approximately 5,400 pickleball-related fractures each year.
Older women, particularly those aged 65 and above, had a higher probability of experiencing a bone fracture compared to men. The majority of incidents took place in the arms and hands.
Despite the fact that females had a higher number of fractures in general, the study discovered that males were 2.3 times more prone to being hospitalised following a bone fracture. Ghattas and her co-workers believe this is because men's fractures tend to occur in bones located in the lower body, which are more prone to necessitate hospital admission.
Dr. Eric Bowman, an assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, stated that although the increase in injuries is mainly due to the sport's expansion, other factors could be affecting this trend, as reported by NBC News.
"It's not enough to just pick up a paddle and get out there," he told me. "As with any sport, learning the mechanics and form is essential for improving performance and avoiding injuries. Some folks may not have learnt enough or been physically prepared in advance.
Pickleball's appeal is evident, but we must not underestimate the toll it can have on our bodies. As we enjoy the game, let us prioritise safety and injury avoidance.
End of Article
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