Pickleball Side Effect: ER Visits by Seniors

New analysis projects tens of thousands such visits this year alone
By Steve Huff,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 30, 2023 1:37 PM CDT
Pickleball Side Effect: ER Visits by Seniors
People play pickleball at newly installed courts at Wollman Rink at Central Park in New York.   (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Pickleball is popular—especially among seniors. However, the sport can also lead to injuries, and a new analysis projects the health-care cost in the US in 2023 at up to $500 million, reports Quartz. The fast-paced sport can involve a lot of jumping, pivoting, and lunging, and those movements can put stress on the joints, causing injuries like sprains, knee pain, and torn rotator cuffs. In addition, Forbes notes that pickleball players are often people over 60. "While we generally think of exercise as positively impacting health outcomes, the 'can-do' attitude of today's seniors can pose greater risk in other areas such as sports injuries, leading to a greater number of orthopedic procedures," reads the UBS Group analysis.

UBS analysts looked at a 2021 study titled "Non-fatal senior pickleball and tennis-related injuries treated in United States emergency departments, 2010-2019," according to Bloomberg. Based on that, the UBS report projected up to 67,000 ER trips and 366,000 outpatient visits this year—in addition to about 9,000 outpatient surgeries. Axios runs down the most common ailments: wrist (13.2%), lower leg (12.9%), head (11.9%), lower trunk (11.6%), and ankle (6.1%).

Roughly 60% of pickleball injuries are sprains, strains, and fractures; 20% are contusions, abrasions, or internal injuries; and the rest include things such as cuts or dislocations, per CNN. The analysis found that up to one-third of pickleball players over 60, and the vast majority (86%) of pickleball injuries occurred in this age bracket. Also of note: About half of players have incomes of at least $100,000 annually. As Benzinga notes, pickleball's popularity has grown quite a bit in the early 2020s, and it's expected to see a huge increase in new players this year—perhaps up to 22.3 million.
(More pickleball stories.)

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