Statement of Purpose Pickleball has a rapidly growing senior following. Understanding players’ injury experience helps inform senior injury prevention and fitness goals.
Methods/Approach A cross-sectional descriptive study was performed using 2010 to 2019 data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS). Tennis was selected for comparison purposes because of the similarity of play. Non-fatal pickleball and tennis-related cases were identified, examined, recoded, and separated by injury versus non-injury conditions. We mostly focused on players ≥60 years of age. Analyses consisted of descriptive statistics, injury frequency, type and trends over time, and comparative measures of risk.
Results Among players ≥60 years of age, non-injuries (i.e., cardiovascular events) accounted for 11.1% and 21.5% of the pickleball and tennis-related cases, respectively. With non-injuries removed for seniors (≥60 years), the NEISS contained a weighted total of 28,984 pickleball injuries (95% confidence interval [CI]=19,463–43,163) and 58,836 tennis injuries (95% CI=44,861–77,164). Pickleball-related injuries grew rapidly over the study period, and by 2018 the annual number of senior pickleball injuries reached parity with senior tennis-related injuries. Pickleball-related Slip/Trip/Fall/Dive injury mechanisms predominated (63.3%, 95% CI=57.7%-69.5%). The leading pickleball-related diagnoses were strains/sprains (33.2%, 95% CI=27.8%-39.5%), fractures (28.1%, 95% CI=24.3%-32.4%) and contusions (10.6%, 95% CI=8.0%-14.1%). Senior males were three-and-a-half times more likely than females to suffer a pickleball-related strain or sprain (Odds Ratio [OR] 3.5, 95% CI=2.2–5.6) whereas women were over three-and-a-half times more likely to suffer a fracture (OR 3.7, 95% CI=2.3–5.7) compared to men and nine times more likely to suffer a wrist fracture (OR 9.3 95% CI=3.6 - 23.9).
Conclusions NEISS is a valuable data source for describing the epidemiology of recreational injuries. However, careful case definitions are necessary when examining records involving older populations as non-injury conditions related to the activity/product codes of interest are frequent.
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