Seizing the Pickleball Trend: Providing Exceptional Care

AUTHOR: Rob Fabrizio

Pickleball is having its moment. As of March 2023, the Association of Pickleball Professionals  (APP) reported that 48.3 million adult Americans had played pickleball at least once in the past 12  months. That’s a 35% increase over the 36.5 million the APP reported in August 2022.

Today, there are more pickleball players than ever and while still popular among older  generations, players are not all seniors anymore. The latest research reveals the average age of  avid pickleball players—that is, someone who plays at least once a month—is approximately 35. More than 70% of avid pickleball players are between the ages of 18 and 44.

With the meteoric rise in pickleball participation, it shouldn’t be surprising that there’s also been a  rise in injuries. A 2019 medical journal estimates that in recent years there were approximately 19,012 pickleball injuries treated in emergency departments annually. Additionally, Americans  were expected to spend between $250 million and $500 million in costs tied to pickleball injuries  in 2023.

What does this mean for orthopedic specialists and sports medicine providers? With over 6,000 orthopedic group practices in the U.S., savvy providers see the pickleball craze as an opportunity  to help those injured as well as build business. Common injuries that are coming from the court  include:

▪ Overuse and chronic injuries due to repetitive motion and pounding. These can occur  in the knees, hips, wrists, rotator cuff, elbows, achilles tendon, ankles, feet including  plantar fasciitis and heel contusions.

▪ Acute injuries due to tripping and falling on the court include sprains (i.e., ankles, knees,  wrists) and broken bones.

The pickleball craze isn’t going away. Now is the time to prepare your practice for an uptick in  pickleball-related injuries and gain a competitive edge in capturing new business. Here’s how:

Patient Education & Smart Marketing

It’s important that orthopedic practices position themselves as an expert on pickleball-related  injuries.

Orthopedic practices should leverage their website and social media channels to post tips on how  to prevent injuries – like the importance of a brief warm-up and cool-down – as well as spread  awareness about the type of injuries that COULD happen, and what they should do if they get  injured.

In addition to spreading awareness about potential injuries to avoid, it’s also impactful to  emphasize the importance of taking breaks to recover from minor injuries. This includes knowing  when to seek medical attention and determining the appropriate time for pickleball enthusiasts to  return to play, including making sure they are free from pain, swelling, and range of motion  limitations. If they are unsure, they should consult their medical provider / orthopedic practice to avoid further injury.

Other ways Orthopedic practices can spread awareness on this hot topic in addition to their  website and social media channels is by attending local health fairs and creating brochures on  this topic that can be left in the waiting room of their practice. Some practices have even  promoted their services by way of courtside logos, event sponsorships, brochures and club  program ads.

Medical Imaging Modalities That Could Help Tackle the Surge

Choose high quality diagnostic imaging technologies that deliver clear, crisp images for accurate  diagnoses. Fujifilm’s digital radiography (DR) systems acquire exceptional images at gentle low  dose perfect for any anatomy that may be impacted by pickleball injuries like wrists, ankles, arms,  shoulders, and more.

Smaller orthopedic sports medicine practices could greatly benefit from Fujifilm’s very unique,  affordable and compact FDR AQRO mini-portable X-ray system. This battery-powered unit offers  great versatility to perform point of care x-rays even in the most confined spaces. It’s an ideal  system to allow practices to triage injuries quickly and even at the sidelines of sports events.

Orthopedic surgery centers can also look to Fujifilm’s revolutionary 2-in-1 fluoroscopic c-arm and  portable x-ray system, the FDR Cross. This first-of-its-kind battery powered, and antibacterial  coated c-arm can eliminate the conventional need for two separate imaging systems and still  perform the procedures most needed with a smart two in one design.

Additionally, Fujifilm’s FDR D-EVO III G80i, the world’s lightest long length detector, performs  whole spine, leg and other long length imaging with a single exposure, eliminating retakes caused  by patient movement and image stitching issues associated with multiple exposure solutions.  Much faster turnaround times are possible due to rapid single exposure-to-image display time  and automated consistent image quality. Its ultra-lightweight, wireless portability and antibacterial coated surfaces also make it perfectly suited for intraoperative imaging as well, with the ability to  check measurements, counts and alignment.

Prepare for Tomorrow’s Pickleball Injuries Today

Though the demographics of the sport have evolved, there are still a considerable number of  seniors playing pickleball. The increased risks and frequency of losses in balance, strength,  endurance, flexibility, coordination and eyesight that can come with aging can lead to a higher likelihood of falls. Older individual’s missteps can lead to more significant injuries, like broken bones—whatever the age or anatomy, from detectors to rooms to portable imaging solutions, Fujifilm’s advanced DR technologies can aid in confidently evaluating and diagnosing the injuries  pickleball players may sustain.

Over the past few years, pickleball has spread at an unprecedented rate. That growth has  brought a remarkable influx of players nationwide—they are younger, more diverse, and can be  found in more places than anyone ever thought.

Providers who take strategic steps now to position themselves as knowledgeable experts on the  sport and its injuries, educate patients, enhance administrative efficiency, and offer the right  technologies, will be the ones to boost their bottom lines while delivering high quality care.