Pickleball-related injuries on the rise, including here in western Mass.

Western Mass News was in Holyoke, diving deep into the injuries that can be suffered while playing.
Published: Jul. 3, 2023 at 3:45 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 3, 2023 at 5:14 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - Pickleball continues to be a hit nationwide, including right here in western Massachusetts. However, like all sports, it is not smooth sailing. Western Mass News was in Holyoke, diving deep into the injuries that can be suffered while playing.

“I knew this was something that was pretty popular and that bringing some classes to the college would be a lot of fun,” said Holyoke Community College Healthcare Training Programs Manager Sharon Grundel.

Grundel is one of thousands across the country who loves pickleball and plays the sport routinely. However, important to note, the activity, like any other sport, has the risk of injury.

HCC Athletics Director Tom Stewart told Western Mass News that there have been a couple of medical calls since the campus started offering pickleball several months ago.

“We had a woman break her leg and we had somebody tear their ACL in their knee, which is not uncommon for a racquet sport,” said Stewart. “Back in the day, when racquetball in the 80s was a big thing, the ACL injuries were huge.”

He told us that the older population has been the main group that plays pickleball, specifically those 50 and older. He added that knee injuries are most common.

Barbara Thompson, a pickleball player from Florence, joined several others in getting some exercise on the HCC courts, saying she knows other players who have suffered some bad luck.

“I was just playing with a friend a few weeks ago, and he ruptured his Achilles tendon while we were playing,” said Thompson. “And my sister, who lives in North Carolina, sprained her wrist when she fell playing pickleball.”

Grundel, on the other hand, received a scare of her own.

“I was hit in the eye with a pickleball at close range,” she told us. “It hurts. It hurts a lot. My eye was pretty red for a good week.”

That is why she usually wears safety glasses from this point forward. According to UBS analysts, pickleball injuries can account for anywhere from $250 million to $500 million in medical bills in the United States a year.

Stewart and some of the players told us that one way to avoid harm is to do some yoga or any kind of warm-up before hitting the court.

Should there be some kind of medical issue, Stewart said that HCC is prepared for that situation.

“All of our campus security officers are first responder-trained, so they can come down before the ambulance gets here and assess it,” he said. “We do have an AED in the building, generally in the athletic department, and that’s available 24/7. We can pull that over, as well, if we need to.”

At the end of the day, HCC advises all players to have fun and be careful out there when out on the court.